In a landmark 5-4 decision today in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality for all 50 states. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring – the first attorney general in the nation to challenge his own state’s ban in federal court and win at the district and appeals court levels – filed an amicus brief in this case explaining Virginia’s unique history in marriage equality cases and a critical legal argument on properly defining the fundamental right at issue in the case.
The ruling protects the marriages of nearly 2,000 Virginia couples who have married since marriage equality came to Virginia in October, thousands more who have had their marriages recognized, and dozens of children who have been adopted or had both their parents placed on their birth certificate.
Attorney General Herring issued the following statement on today’s ruling:
“This is an extraordinary moment in our nation’s recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights, and responsibilities, including those of marriage, simply because of who they love,” said Attorney General Herring. “Thousands of newly-married Virginians and their families now know their bonds are protected by the highest law of the land, sending a powerful message about what a loving family can look like in the 21st century.
“It has been one of the highest honors of my career to help the Commonwealth lead the nation on this fundamental civil rights issue, after past fights on the wrong side of issues like school desegregation, interracial marriage bans, and equal opportunity for women. Our work to achieve equality and a level playing field for every Virginian is not done. I look forward to helping protect our workers from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and to making communities safer for LGBT Virginians of all ages. Today’s ruling is a giant step in that direction.
“As Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote in her decision that first struck down Virginia’s marriage ban:
‘We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect… 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.’
“She was right. They asked for fairness, they now have it, and they shall have it forever.”