In a 41-page ruling issued shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen found Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman and banning state recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as well as portions of Virginia code and “any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia's recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions” as unconstitutional.
"The 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,” the ruling states. “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."This case has an extremely high profile because it is sponsored by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and features the superlawyer odd couple pairing of David Boies and Ted Olson. Just last week, the judge heard oral arguments in this case but she had been expected to rule quickly. Nice touch to do so before Valentine's Day.
Marriages can not begin in Virginia because Judge Wright Allen issued a stay on her decision, realizing that since the Supreme Court ultimately issued a stay when another federal judge struck down a similar ban in Utah last December. The case will now go to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and most likely, the United States Supreme Court eventually.