Constitutional Law

4th Circuit panel refuses to stay same-sex marriage ruling

A three-judge panel of the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to stay its ruling last month striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Unless the U. S. Supreme Court intervenes, the 2-1 decision paves the way for same-sex marriages to begin in Virginia on Wednesday, the New York Times and the National Law Journal (sub. req.) report.

However, Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg on Thursday appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has already received an appeal of the panel’s decision from the state.

And legal observers widely expect the court to block the ruling from taking effect, as it has already done on behalf of state officials who appealed a similar decision in Utah.

“We trust the Supreme Court will grant our request in order to ensure an orderly and dignified resolution of this important constitutional question,” Byron Babione, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents McQuigg, said in a prepared statement.

But Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, which represents approximately 14,000 same-sex Virginia couples, said she hopes the court will leave the 4th circuit ruling in place.

“Our clients have waited far too long to exercise their constitutional right to marry, or to have their marriages from other states recognized,” she said.

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