Invoking Abraham Lincoln and the nation’s historic struggle against racial discrimination, a federal judge declared … that Virginia’s laws that limit marriage to a man and a woman violated the due process and equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. … The ruling, which overturned a constitutional amendment adopted by Virginia voters in 2006 as well as previous laws, also said that Virginia must respect same-sex marriages that were carried out legally in other states.
If the Court of Appeals upholds Thursday’s decision, the repercussions in the South, where opposition to same-sex marriage has been strongest, could be wide. Restrictive state amendments would most likely be voided in other states of the Fourth Circuit, including North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. (Maryland, the fifth circuit member, approved same-sex marriage in 2012.)
The losing side was represented by Ken Connelly, a staff counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group co-founded by evangelical activist James Dobson. Connelly contended that the ruling “interferes with the right of Virginians to determine the future of marriage in their state.”
The next stop for the marriage equality movement may be Louisiana:
A 2004 amendment to the Louisiana constitution says marriage in the state “shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman”, and goes on to prohibit state officials or courts from recognizing a marriage “contracted in any other jurisdiction which is not the union of one man and one woman”.
The New Orleans-based Forum for Equality Louisiana and four couples announced a plan … to challenge the recognition ban, citing equal protection and free speech rights in the U.S. constitution.