NORFOLK, VA, February 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Yet another federal judge has overturned a state law banning same-sex “marriage,” as Judge Arenda Wright Allen declared Virginia’s law enshrining true marriage unconstitutional Thursday. The state becomes the fourth to have a legislative or voter-approved measure banning gay marriage overturned by a federal judge.
“The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” Allen wrote in her 41-page decision, which Mother Jones called “incredibly moving.” “Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country's cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.”
“We have arrived upon another moment in history when 'We the People' becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect,” wrote Allen.
The judge stayed her own decision pending appeal, which means homosexual couples will not immediately be permitted to marry in Virginia. Newly-installed state Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said that although he supports making same-sex “marriage” legal – not only did he refuse to argue the state’s case, he joined the lawsuit in favor of the homosexual plaintiffs – he expects that the matter will not be decided until it reaches the Supreme Court.
“This decision is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law,” Herring said. “It is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
But Herring added, “I said that the case presented fundamental questions that need to be decided by a court, and may ultimately need to be decided by the Supreme Court. That remains true today. The legal process will continue to play out in the months to come, but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly.”
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown criticized both Allen and Herring in a statement of his own, arguing that they are forcing liberal ideology down the throats of the tradition-minded majority in Virginia. He drew particular attention to the fact that Allen is an Obama appointee, just like Judge Robert Shelby, who overturned Utah’s same-sex “marriage” ban in December.
“This is another example of an Obama-appointed judge twisting the Constitution and the rule of law to impose her own views of marriage in defiance of the people of Virginia,” Brown said. “This case also leaves a particular stench because of the unconscionable decision of Attorney General Mark Herring to not only abandon his sworn duty to defend the laws of the state, but to actually join the case against the very people he is duty-bound to represent.”
“We hope that the U.S. Supreme Court ends up reversing this terrible decision,” he added.
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State Delegate Bob Marshall, who authored the 2006 voter-approved ban on same-sex “marriage,” went a step further. Accusing Allen of “lawless disregard” for the democratic process, he openly called for her impeachment and warned of the grave consequences he believes will come to pass if same-sex “marriage” becomes legal in Virginia.
“Equality of persons is not the same as equality of behavior,” Marshall said. “While there is no place in society for disrespect for any human being based on their sexual orientation, this does not mean that the state must condone or promote sexual behavior that impairs people with serious illnesses and burdens our health care system.”
“By basing her decision on a prior reversal of unjust laws which prohibited interracial marriage,” Marshall argued, “Judge Allen asserts that homosexual ‘marriage’ is based on civil rights. If this reasoning is upheld, then our children will be taught in school that they are guilty of illegal discrimination if they oppose homosexual ‘marriage’ and that there is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual marriage, that any church which denies a marriage ceremony or a business which declines to provide services to a same-sex wedding celebration is guilty of illegal discrimination. This is already occurring in states where same-sex ‘marriage’ has been legalized.”
“If homosexuals can marry whoever they love, then it follows that bi-sexuals should be legally allowed to marry two people, polygamists should marry several, and pedophiles should marry children,” Marshall said. “There is no logical line to draw once marriage as we have known it from the beginning of time is abolished. Judge Allen's decision does not benefit society and does not uphold the common good. This movement is not about the common good or even about tolerance but about forced submission to a world view which violates the deeply held values of many Virginians.”
Gay activists celebrated the ruling, with many comparing the case to Loving v. Virginia, which ultimately legalized interracial marriage nationwide.
“Yet another court has upheld the fundamental idea that gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to full equality under the law,” said a spokesman for the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign. “Nearly fifty years ago, another Virginia case struck down bans on interracial marriage across the country, and now this commonwealth brings renewed hope for an end to irrational barriers to marriage for loving and committed couples across the country.”
Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson pointed out that Allen’s decision is just one in a string of similar rulings that show the judicial system has largely been won over by homosexual activists. He said he believes it is only a matter of time before same-sex “marriage” is legal throughout America.
“The bipartisan momentum for marriage is building at an unprecedented speed,” Wolfson said. “In just the past several weeks, federal judges in Utah, Oklahoma, and Kentucky; the Attorney Generals of Virginia and Nevada; the Governor of Nevada, and now a federal judge in Virginia have all said that marriage discrimination against loving and committed gay couples is indefensible under our Constitution. There has been a fundamental shift in the legal landscape. America is ready for the freedom to marry and those couples in Virginia, on the eve of Valentine's Day, are ready to marry.”
But Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said it is not the judicial branch’s place to define marriage, and warned judges that overreaching their boundaries by overturning voter-approved laws could shake Americans’ faith in the judicial system.
“This decision is outrageous and legally flawed,” Staver said. “Judges would be well-served to read the U.S. Constitution and not invent or rewrite it. The Constitution cannot be changed by the stroke of a judge’s pen, nor does it bow to a judge’s personal ideology.”
“The overwhelming majority of Virginia voters who make up ‘we the people’ voted to affirm natural marriage,” said Staver. “Judges should be careful to render decisions grounded in the Constitution and the rule of law. Otherwise, judges and courts will render themselves impotent when the people lose confidence in the judicial system.”