Augusta Free Press

Marriage equality for all: Supreme Court lets gay marriage rulings stand

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a surprise move, denied review Monday to five rulings from lower federal courts in cases involving gay marriage, leaving standing marriage equality victories in several federal circuits and opening the door to the freedom to marry for lgbt couples in many more states.

The office of Attorney General Mark Herring confirmed in response to the news that the Fourth Circuit is expected to issue its mandate at 1 p.m., meaning marriage licenses for same-sex couples can be issued at that time and the Commonwealth will recognize all marriages that were lawfully performed in other states.

Local clerks are receiving guidance and forms necessary to begin performing marriages today, and the attorney general’s office is working with the governor’s office and state agencies to implement any needed changes in light of this action.

“A new day has dawned, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are shining through,” Herring said in a statement Monday. “All Virginians have the constitutional right to be treated fairly and equally, to have loving, committed relationships recognized and respected, and to enjoy the blessings of married life. We should all be proud that our fellow Virginians helped lead us forward.

“This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history,” Herring said. “We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a statement called the Supreme Court ruling a “historic and long overdue moment for our Commonwealth and our country.”

“On issues ranging from recognizing same-sex marriages to extending health care benefits to same-sex spouses of state employees, Virginia is already well-prepared to implement this historic decision,” McAuliffe said. “Going forward we will act quickly to continue to bring all of our policies and practices into compliance so that we can give marriages between same-sex partners the full faith and credit they deserve.”

James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, an lgbt civil-rights group, talked about the “historic” nature of the ruling.

Equality Virginia is overjoyed that loving lesbian and gay couples can now marry the person they love in the place they call home,” Parrish said. “After decades of work to change hearts and minds, the freedom to marry is now a reality.  This is such an exciting and historic day, and we are thrilled for the thousands of couples whose relationships – and families – will now be recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia!  This day will be celebrated for a long time to come.”