Virginia gets a Valentine

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen begins her opinion striking down the Marshall-Newman amendment by quoting Mildred Loving:

We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? . . . I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. . . . I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

She ends by quoting Abraham Lincoln:

Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: “It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just. . . the same thing – fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.”

The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court’s power, they and all others shall have.

The Court finds Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia’s recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In between (and after barely acknowledging in a footnote the curious and laughable argument that “Plaintiffs can prove and bring forth no history of discrimination”), she says this:

The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose.

There is, as expected, a stay pending certain appeal to the 4th Circuit. Chances that this case will reach the Supreme Court by the deadline for this term seem good. It’s been an eventful ten years, counting from the enactment of Marshall-Newman’s statutory predecessor. I think I’ll go get some sleep now. A very happy Valentine’s Day to all.

6 thoughts on “Virginia gets a Valentine

  1. Pingback: This week in anti-gay temper tantrums | Loudoun Progress

  2. Epluribusunum Post author

    Yes. And the judge who issued the opinion in Kentucky explains this trajectory even more explicitly. Beginning at page 18, he takes the time to address those who voted for the ban and answer in plain language the questions he suspects they are asking, like “how can a single judge interfere with the citizens of a state in establishing public policy?” and “why is all this happening so suddenly?” It was an unusual and touching gesture.

    And in Virginia? I think we owe thanks to Bob Marshall, Ken Cuccinelli, and all the others for being so hateful and leaving no doubt about what these marriage laws were intended to accomplish. We should send them a Valentine.

  3. Paradox13VA

    This decision calls out and cites pretty much every major progressive Supreme Court case of the past forty years, doesn’t it? Casey, Griswold, heck, even Miranda. What a tour de force.

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