5/13 UPDATE: Supporters of gay marriage were already at the federal courthouse at 6 a.m. and police were positioned there around 7:30 a,m.
The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. and each side will have 30 minutes for arguments and questions.
Jordan Lorence, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said "The basic error of the trial judge is that the constitution does not give people the right to re-define marriage."
He added, "If we have to take this case to the Supreme Court, we'll do it."
RICHMOND -- The next chapter in the same-sex marriage debate will be written in Richmond on Tuesday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the Norfolk case, Bostic v. Schaefer, the appeal of the federal district court decision which struck down the 2006 Virginia Marriage Amendment.
Timothy Bostic and Tony London were denied a marriage license at Norfolk Circuit Court on July 1, 2013. They filed a lawsuit claiming gays and lesbians are being denied equal protection and liberties guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring said, shortly after taking office, that he would not defend the law.
On the evening of February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day, a federal judge in Norfolk ruled the amendment was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen stayed her ruling while the case is appealed, meaning gay couples in Virginia still can't legally marry.
That set up Tuesday’s showdown in Richmond for a three-judge panel randomly selected from the 16-member appeals court. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. and each side will have 30 minutes for arguments and questions.
Ahead of the hearing, supporters of traditional marriage will hold a prayer service and then rally outside the court during the hearing. Speakers include Josh Dugger, Family Research Council Action, Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage and Jeff Caruso, Virginia Catholic Conference.
A ruling from the court could come in several weeks or several months. That decision can be appealed by the losing side, which can ask for a rehearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears cases from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.
Lawyers on both sides of the issue believe this case will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
17 states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage; 33 states have a law or constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The Virginia case is one of dozens making its way through courts across the country. The Human Rights Campaign says it's one of nine cases that have reached the federal appeals courts level.