Marriage Equality Comes to Virginia

Carl Tobias *

Marriage equality is sweeping the United States. Across 2014, numerous federal circuit and district court judges throughout America invalidated state constitutional bans or legislative restrictions which proscribe same-sex marriage. Accordingly, it was predictable that Judge Wright Allen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia would rule that Virginia’s prohibitions were unconstitutional and enjoin their enforcement on February 13,[1] even as the jurist stayed her decision.[2] Marriage equality in Virginia comprises a significant legal issue and has telling effects on numerous people, but its status remained less than clear until recently. Marriage equality in the jurisdiction deserves analysis, which this piece undertakes.

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* Williams Chair in Law, University of Richmond School of Law. I wish to thank Peggy Sanner for exceptional ideas, Thomas DiStanislao and Katie Lehnen for valuable research, Leslee Stone for excellent processing, and Russell Williams and the Hunton Williams Summer Endowment Fund for generous, continuing support. Remaining errors are mine.

        [1].    Bostic v. Rainey, 970 F. Supp. 2d 456, 483–85 (E.D. Va. 2014); see Robert Barnes, Federal Judge Strikes Down Va. Ban on Gay Marriage, Wash. Post (Feb. 14, 2014), http:// www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-strikes-down-va-ban-on-gay-marriage/201 4/02/13/c65b7674-9528-11e3-83b9-1f024193bb84_story.html?hpid=z1.

        [2].    Bostic v. Rainey, 970 F. Supp. 2d 456, 484 (E.D. Va. 2014).