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Gay marriages could begin next week in Virginia
Thursday, August 14, 2014
RICHMOND (AP) — Same-sex couples could begin marrying as early as next week in Virginia after a federal appeals court refused Wednesday to delay its ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.
The state would also need to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state next Wednesday, though the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively put same-sex marriages on hold again if opponents of same-sex marriage are able to win an emergency delay.
A county clerk in northern Virginia had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay its decision striking down the ban, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court. The appeals court’s order did not explain why it denied that request.
The 4th Circuit decision “shows that there’s no longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying,” said Nancy Leong, a law
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professor at the University of Denver. “Given how many different judges in so many different parts of the country ... have reached the same result, it seems highly likely that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits, and I think that, in turn, explains why the 4th Circuit was not willing to grant a stay.”
While clerks in other states within the 4th Circuit — West Virginia and the Carolinas — wouldn’t technically have to begin issuing licenses as well, federal courts in the state would likely make them if they don’t, Leong said.
Attorneys general in the Carolinas did not indicate whether they’d direct clerks to begin issuing licenses along with Virginia. Following the initial ruling last month, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office will stop defending his state’s ban. A spokesman for South Carolina’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, said he sees no need to stop defending that state’s ban. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office said it communicated with the West Virginia County Clerk’s Association that its law regarding same-sex marriage remains in effect. Maryland, another state in the circuit, already allows same-sex marriages.