In a 2-to-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond upheld a ruling that said Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. This is the first decision of its kind in a Southern state and follows in the steps of similar rulings by federal appeals courts in Oklahoma and Utah.
Said Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd of the ruling:
We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life.
Gay and lesbian couples still won’t be able to marry in Virginia until August 18 at the earliest, allowing time for a counter appeal to be filed. There are currently similar appellate court cases concerning same-sex marriage bans underway in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, among others.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was proud of the court’s decision saying:
Progress does not always come as quickly as we hope it will, but today is yet another example of how justice, equality and the people who fight for those values will always persevere in the end.
Gay marriage is currently legal in 19 states, and the Virginia decision is only the latest in what has been a streak of victories for gay marriage advocates.