Herring asks Supreme Court to take up Virginia same-sex marriage case


File: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) (Jay Paul/Getty Images)

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower court rulings that strike down the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Herring said earlier this week that he would petition the high court in hopes that it would hear Virginia’s case ahead of similar cases winding their way though courts in other states.

“I believe this case will prove compelling for the Court because of the stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia’s marriage ban, the range of critical questions presented, the clear legal standing of the parties, and Virginia’s historic role in 1967’s Loving case ending bans on interracial marriage,” Herring said in a statement. “Virginia got that case wrong. Now, we have a chance to get it right, and to help extend to all Americans the right to marry the person they love.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver ruled that bans in Oklahoma and Utah violate the federal Constitution, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, ruled this summer in the Virginia case, saying that marriage is a fundamental right that may not be withheld from gay couples.

Herring asked the 4th Circuit to stay its ruling until the Supreme Court acts.

Same-sex marriage status in the U.S., state-by-state

Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia have raced to get their petitions to the high court. But the justices are under no obligation to take the cases and face no deadline for making a decision. They might want to wait until other appeals courts have reviewed the issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati will be hearing cases from four states on Wednesday, and two other courts will hold hearings within the next six weeks.

Robert Barnes contributed to this report.

Jenna Portnoy covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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