Couples fight to overturn Va. ban on gay marriage

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by Jonathan Costen & Eric Kane, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 12:22 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 6:08 AM

NORFOLK -- Two Virginia couples say they want something they legally cannot have—a marriage license.  

Same-sex couple Tim Bostic and Tony London say they will appear in federal court Tuesday morning to fight for the right to be married in the state in Virginia; the state does not recognize same-sex marriage.  

"All we want is to get married and to be recognized just like every other couple out here who's married we're not looking for anything special we're not looking to put anything in anybody's face, " Tony London said.  

The pair met in California nearly 25 years ago. They filed a federal lawsuit last summer so they can legally marry.

"It's about our family we're not doing this to hurt anybody else but the way the laws are in the state it  hurts our family, “ Bostic said.

Another couple has joined from the lawsuit.  Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County said they also want to be protected under the law.  

The two women have a daughter and they said a trip to the post office motivated them to take action. When the women applied for a passport with their teenage child, one of the women was rejected by a postal worker. 

"The civil servant just crossed me off... you're nothing here,  you don't belong here. We really joined this lawsuit because we believe in our family," Schall said.  

 Townley added, “We're not doing it just for us... we're doing it for all Virginians who want marriage equality.”

The Richmond-based Family Foundation has announced they will hold a demonstration outside the federal courthouse in Norfolk Tuesday in defense of traditional marriage.

They will also protest Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision to not uphold the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, after he decided it was unconstitutional.

"There's a feeling that the voters have been disenfranchised by the Attorney General, they've been left without a defense in this case,” said Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation.

Political observers say Virginia could play a crucial role in the national debate on gay marriage.

Tuesday’s landmark case will join similar ones in other states and political observers say it could lead to a national ruling on the hot button issue.

"Those [gay marriage cases] will then be appeal upwards most likely, no matter what the verdict is, pursuing ultimately a Supreme court decision on the national level which will establish nationally, whether the states have the power to ban gay marriage," said Jesse Richman, a political professor at Old Dominion University.

On Tuesday, the General Assembly passed a bill that would allow lawmakers to enforce Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, even if Attorney General Mark Herring refuses to.

However, Richman says the bill is mostly symbolic as it will unlikely pass the senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe has vowed to veto it.
 

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