A federal judge in Virginia late Thursday received applause from marriage equality advocates by ruling that the state's ban on gay marriage—though approved by voters in 2006—is an affront to the rights of gay citizens and struck the law down on constitutional grounds.
“Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal,” wrote Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Surely this means all of us.”
“Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships,” the judge continued. “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.”
James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, celebrated the decision, calling Thursday a historic day for all Virginians.
"The ruling finally puts Virginia on the path toward allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry the person they love here in the place they call home," he said. "I am proud that here in Virginia we are no longer asking if the freedom to marry the person you love will be a reality, but instead we are asking when. With this ruling, we are one step closer to gaining full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians. Today Virginia is standing on the right side of history."