Three West Virginia couples are the lead plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday (1 October) that seeks to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage.
The lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, argues that West Virginia's marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children.
It also claims that the law sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.
The three couples named in the suit are: Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins, Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew (pictured).
Michael, a life-long West Virginian, states: 'Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn't enough. We need the protection that marriage affords.'
Michael, 45, and Fenton, 43, have been together for 16 years while the other two couples are just starting their lives together.
McGee, 30, and Adkins 32, have been together for more than three years and Murdock, 32, and Glavaris, 31, have been together for more than two years.
'West Virginia's state motto 'Mountaineers are Always Free' is hollow until all West Virginians - no matter who they love - have the freedom to marry,' stated Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.
Littrell added: 'The fight for the freedom to marry has come south. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination.'