Gay Marriage Could Start Next Week in Virginia

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A Christian legal group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to delay a federal appeals court ruling allowing gay marriage licenses to be issued next week in Virginia.

In February, a federal judge struck down Virginia's voter-approved state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Then last month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to keep that decision on hold while the case is being appealed.

Gay activists are pushing for same-sex marriages to begin taking place next week in Virginia, even though the case has not reached its conclusion.

"The last word on the marriage lawsuits in America rests with the U.S. Supreme Court. It has already said that lower-court rulings on state marriage laws should be placed on hold for now," Byron Babione, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said.

"The 4th Circuit was wrong to ignore that and deny Virginians an orderly, dignified, and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman," Babione said.

ADF attorneys represent Prince William County Clerk of Court Michèle B. McQuigg in defense of Virginia's amendment. That's because Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has refused to defend Virginia's 2006 voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

More than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months have struck down marriage amendments in numerous states. Observers expect the cases to ultimately be resolved at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ken Connelly, legal counsel for ADF, said he expects the stay to be granted in Virginia because the Supreme Court has twice granted delays in Utah's fight to keep its same-sex marriage ban.

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