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Federal appeals court allows Virginia same-sex marriages to proceed

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday declined to stay [order, PDF] its decision declaring Virginia's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional [opinion, PDF]. Citizens of Virginia voted to amend [WP report] the Virginia Constitution [text] in 2006 to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman, banning the performance or recognition of same-sex marriages. A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] struck down the ban [JURIST report] in February, concluding that it violates due process and equal protection rights enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment [text] to the US Constitution. The Fourth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision in July and declined to stay its ruling without further comment. The Alliance Defending Freedom [advocacy website], which is defending the law on behalf of a county clerk since Virginia's leadership has rescinded its support of the law, has stated its intention to appeal [WP report] to the Supreme Court [official website] to enforce a stay on the Fourth Circuit's ruling before it is slated to come into effect.

Since the Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, many federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Earlier this week, a Tennessee county court was the first court in the country to uphold a state's same-sex marriage ban [JURIST report] since Section 3 was declared unconstitutional. Earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in six lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans in four states. In July the US District Court for the District of Colorado struck down Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST report] as unconstitutional, but he immediately stayed his ruling pending an appeal to a higher court.

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