Same-sex marriage is coming to the state of West Virginia sooner than anyone expected.
The state’s governor and attorney general announced today that they will not longer defend challenges to the state’s ban on gay marriage due to the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to review the ruling overturning the ban in neighboring Virginia.
Same-sex couples are expected to be able to begin applying for marriage licenses by next Tuesday (14 October) at the latest, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said recent rulings by several federal courts, combined with the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this issue ‘make it clear that laws banning same-sex marriage have been declared unconstitutional.
‘I do not plan to take any actions that would seek to overturn the courts’ decisions,’ he said in a statement. ‘West Virginia will uphold the law according to these rulings, and I have directed state agencies to take appropriate action to make that possible.
‘Our state is known for its kindness and hospitality to residents and visitors alike. I encourage all West Virginians – regardless of their personal beliefs – to uphold our statewide tradition of treating one another with dignity and respect.’
Lambda Legal had filed a lawsuit in October 2013 on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple.
The lawsuit argued that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.
‘We applaud the Governor’s directive to state agencies to follow these rulings and expect that all public officials, including clerks across the state, will comply and allow couples to marry,’ Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Karen Loewy aod in a statement.