West Virginia Attorney General Concedes Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

The Next Family

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey Thursday agreed to end the state’s defense of West Virginia’s discriminatory marriage ban in Lambda Legal’s marriage case one day after the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia lifted its stay on the case, McGee v. Cole. et. al.

The state’s change in position comes after Monday’s announcement from the Supreme Court denying review of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in McQuigg v. Bostic striking down Virginia’s marriage ban, finalizing that ruling and providing a controlling precedent for all the states within the 4th Circuit including West Virginia.

“The Attorney General has conceded that the West Virginia marriage ban is unconstitutional. Given the ruling on the Bostic case, the Fourth Circuit’s decision is final and West Virginia’s same-sex couples should be able to marry imminently,” said Karen Loewy, Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney. “We applaud the Governor’s directive to state agencies to follow these rulings and expect that all public officials, including clerks across the state, will comply and allow couples to marry.”

“West Virginia’s same-sex couples should be able to marry immediately and we invite people to be in touch with Lambda Legal’s Help Desk if they encounter any difficulty getting a marriage license or having it respected,” Loewy added.

Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit in October 2013 on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple, arguing that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

The plaintiffs include: Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, together for 16 years, and their six-year-old son, Drew; Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, together for more than three years; and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, together for more than two years.

Lambda Legal attorneys Karen Loewy, Beth Littrell and Camilla Taylor are handling the case, joined by West Virginia co-counsel Jack Tinney and Heather Foster Kittredge of Tinney Law Firm, PLLC, and cooperating attorneys Paul Smith and Lindsay Harrison of Jenner & Block.

Those with questions or concerns about discrimination or denial of a protection to which they are entitled should contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk at 1-866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/help.

Read the governor’s statement here.

See more about the case here.

Article brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian. Photo: Skley

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