4th Circuit Clears the Way for Gay Marriages to Begin in Virginia—With One Big Caveat

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Aug. 13 2014 12:49 PM

4th Circuit Clears the Way for Gay Marriages to Begin in Virginia—With One Big Caveat

shutterstock_202106308
Virginia isn't for married gay lovers ... yet.

Photo byStacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock

On Wednesday, the 4th Circuit denied a request to stay its recent ruling invalidating Virginia’s gay marriage ban, clearing the way for marriages to begin soon. The decision comes as something of a surprise: Although the two justices who struck down the ban castigated it as unconstitutional “segregation,” many equally emphatic courts have put their rulings on hold, essentially sitting on their hands while the issue works its way back to the Supreme Court. For 4th Circuit judges Henry Franklin Floyd and Roger Gregory, however, the harms caused by Virginia’s gay marriage ban are apparently so obnoxious to equal protection principles that the law must be nullified immediately. 

If no further action is taken, gay couples in Virginia will be able to get married starting Aug. 20. There is, however, one remaining roadblock to marriage equality within the state. Advocates of the ban may well appeal the 4th Circuit’s recent order to the Supreme Court, begging the justices to halt same-sex marriages until the court settles the issue once and for all. Back in January, the court agreed to halt gay marriages in Utah while the issue was appealed; there’s a very good chance the justices will be take similar action here.

Advertisement

Even if, by a stroke of good fortune, the Supreme Court allows the 4th Circuit’s order to stand, gay marriage advocates have another reason to be worried. The 6th Circuit seems poised to rule against marriage equality in the coming months, and a conservative state judge in Tennessee recently ended the post-Windsor winning streak. The good news out of Virginia, then, may be the last ray of hope gay marriage advocates get for a while. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Not Easy for Me, but I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 23 2014 10:55 AM This Isn’t the Syria Intervention Anyone Wanted
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 23 2014 10:24 AM How Bad Are Your Drinking Habits? An 18th-Century Temperance Thermometer Has the Verdict.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 9:42 AM Listen to the Surprising New Single From Kendrick Lamar
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google CEO: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.