NORFOLK, Va. – A federal judge struck down Virginia’s ban on homosexual ‘marriage’ late Thursday as being unconstitutional, stating that it deprived those engaging in the homosexual lifestyle the “fundamental freedom to choose to marry.”
U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk, Virginia cited in her 41-page opinion that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the right to due process and equal protection afforded under the U.S. Constitution. However, Allen stayed the execution of her order pending appeal.
Allen, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote in her opinion that “[t]he Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.”
“Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family,” Allen also asserted in her decision.
Allen’s ruling makes Virginia the second state in the South to issue similar decisions. Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia recognize homosexual “marriages,” including eight states where it became legal in 2013. Thirty-three states ban homosexuals from engaging in such conduct by constitutional amendment.
On Wednesday, a judge in Kentucky ruled that the state must recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other states, but did not rule on the constitutionality of such “marriages” conducted inside the state.
Allen’s ruling also follows similar decisions in Utah and Oklahoma federal courts.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who stated last month he would not defend the state’s ban on homosexual “marriage,” applauded the ruling in a statement stating that “is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
Nationwide, there are more than a dozen federal lawsuits seeking to strike down state bans on homosexual “marriage”.