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Federal judge strikes down Virginia gay marriage ban

Feb. 14, 2014 at 12:17 AM   |   Comments

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RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge Thursday night found Virginia's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, but didn't immediately set it aside.

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled the state's law outlawing same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides for equal protection under the law, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

However, the judge denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed for same-sex marriages to begin immediately. Instead, she stayed her ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in.

The newspaper said the judge agreed with the plaintiffs in Bostic vs. Rainey, who maintained the 2006 state amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman relegates gays to the status of second-class citizens.

"There can be no serious doubt that in America, the right to marry is a rigorously protected fundamental right," Wright Allen wrote. "The Supreme Court has recognized repeatedly that marriage is a fundamental right protected both by the due process and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment."

She said marriage rights are pillars of U.S. society and therefore are covered by the protections afforded by the 14th Amendment.

"The right to marry is inseparable from our rights to privacy and intimate association," she said.

The Times-Dispatch noted the state constitutional amendment was approved by 57 percent of Virginia voters.

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