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Rights groups seek summary judgment in Virginia same-sex marriage suit

Civil rights advocacy groups Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Virginia [advocacy websites] on Monday filed [press release] a motion for summary judgment [text, PDF] requesting that a federal court act quickly to overturn Virginia's statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriages. In the lawsuit, filed [JURIST report] in August in the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia [official website], the groups claim that the state's treatment of same-sex couples is unconstitutional, as it denies the legal protection offered to traditional couples. The groups asked the court Monday to act quickly in overturning what they call an "urgent" violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment [LII backgrounder].

The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, with legal challenges before numerous state and federal courts. Last Friday an Illinois judge allowed two lawsuits challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage to proceed to trial [JURIST report]. Also Friday a New Jersey judge ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry [JURIST report]. Earlier in the week two lawsuits were filed in Pennsylvania seeking recognition for same-sex marriages performed outside the state, as well as marriages performed within the state [JURIST reports] when a county clerk was issuing same-sex marriage licenses despite a state ban.

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