West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said Thursday that his office would stop defending the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to not hear appeals in other marriage cases.
“By refusing to consider the appeal, the Supreme Court has caused the Appeals Court’s decision to become final and binding on West Virginia,” Morrisey said in a statement. “While we will take steps to seek to end the litigation, the conclusion of the lawsuit cannot and will not alone effectuate the Fourth Circuit’s mandate.”
West Virginia was one of six states following the Supreme Court’s decision Monday, as it was under the jurisdiction of a court that had upheld a ruling striking down marriage bans. Colorado made a decision to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday, while the governors of Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming said they would not do so unless directed specifically by a court.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) said he directed all state agencies to uphold the marriage decision.
“As the attorney general stated today, 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,” he said in a statement. “I do not plan to take any action that would seek to overturn the courts’ decisions.”
Tomblin also said that West Virginia was “known for its kindness and hospitality,” and said he hoped residents would “uphold our statewide tradition of treating one another with respect.”