Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, VA-ACLU chair, made the announcement less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same sex couples. The justices also left intact a lower court ruling overturning California’s gay marriage ban – a decision that was based on a legal technicality and did not address the law’s constitutionality.
Gastanaga said lawyers from the ACLU and the gay rights group Lambda Legal will argue that a Virginia constitutional amendment and three underlying statutes violate the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. The amendment and statutes prohibit gay marriage and deny recognition of such marriages sanctioned by other states.
Via press release:
Today Lambda Legal announced that it is in the planning stages of a new federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Virginia with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“The end of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act opens a new chapter in our work to ensure same-sex couples and their families across the country are treated with dignity and respect,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “We know that many same-sex couples and their families have waited a long time and we are excited to announce that the campaign for the freedom to marry is coming south.”
“We do not want a country so divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or Virginia. This is one America,” added Nevins.