Judge Ready to Rule in Virginia Marriage Equality Case



Responding to the January 23 announcement that the Commonwealth of Virginia will no longer defend that state’s constitutional and statutory ban on marriage equality, the federal district court judge presiding over one of two pending challenges there has indicated she is prepared to rule based on written briefs that have been submitted in the case.

Following Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement that his office has concluded the state’s policy on gay marriage violates the 14th Amendment rights of same-sex couples, District Judge Arenda Allen, citing “the compelling Notice from the Office of the Attorney General,” notified parties that she now longer sees a need for oral arguments scheduled for January 30.

She directed all parties to respond as to whether they believe oral arguments are necessary or “whether the Court should instead rule promptly on the briefs without a hearing.” The clear suggestion is that argument would be appropriate only to articulate points not already made in the written briefs.

Since the AG’s office withdrew from defending the state’s marriage law and related constitutional amendment, only two county clerks –– one originally named as a defendant and the other that has been allowed intervenor status –– are engaged in defending the ban on gay marriage.

Responses to Allen’s notice are due on January 27, suggesting a ruling could come quickly.

A second marriage equality lawsuit, filed in Virginia’s Western District, is not as far along as the case Allen presides over.