RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court has denied a request to delay its 2-1 ruling last month striking down the Virginia same-sex marriage ban.
A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Wednesday denied the request by a county court clerk in northern Virginia to stay the decision while it is appealed to the Supreme Court.
That means that without intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex couples could begin marrying and have their out-of-state marriages recognized by next Wednesday, August 20th.
However, the case might end up in the high court if the Prince William County clerk files a petition. Earlier this month, Utah Atty. Gen. Sean Reyes filed a similar petition after a marriage in his state was overturned, saying he would welcome the finality of a Supreme Court ruling.
“We hope that the Supreme Court will leave this ruling in place, so that same-sex couples may begin marrying right away,” Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “Our clients have already waited far too long to exercise their constitutional right to marry, or to have their marriages from other states recognized.”
Late last month, the court ruled that Virginia’s gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2006 is unconstitutional.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and every remaining state ban faces a court challenge.
The battle in Virginia, along with one in Utah, sets the stage for a possible Supreme Court ruling on the matter. Newly elected Virginia Atty. Gen. Mark Herring has repeatedly refused to defend the voter-approved ban in court, calling it unconstitutional, and he previously appealed to the high court to strike down the state ban.
The Associated Press / Los Angeles Times