CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals could issue a ruling as soon as this summer on a case challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages. ┬áBeth Littrell, staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, said that decision will have a real effect in West Virginia.

“If the 4th Circuit affirms the Virginia decision and says that same-sex couples have to have access to marriage, there’s no justification, there would be no legitimate reason that West Virginia would be able to put up an argument (against such marriages) that would hold up in court,” Littrell said.

Lambda Legal is representing the three same-sex couples from West Virginia who filed a lawsuit last fall in Huntington Federal Court challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages after they were denied marriage licenses in both Kanawha County and Cabell County.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers issued a stay for that West Virginia case, pending the decision from the appeals court on the Virginia case since West Virginia is in the 4th Circuit.

The decision to wait did not surprise Littrell. “What the Court did was officially acknowledge what we believed the Court was doing unofficially,” she said.

On appeal is the case of Bostic v. Schaefer. A lower court in Norfolk, Va., in considering that case, found that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages violates guarantees of equal protection and due process and, because of that, is unconstitutional. That ruling was stayed to allow time for the appeal. Arguments on the appeal were held last month.

The 4th Circuit’s ruling, whatever it is, could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Littrell, a Charleston native, said she believes opinions about same-sex marriages are changing across the country, including in West Virginia. “Some liberties and some constitutional rights are just too important to wait until we have a majority consensus on it,” she said.

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  • bibi

    So now bring it on! People are people, no matter who they love. Remember, not so long ago biracial marriages made people "uncomfortable" and were illegal.

  • DWL

    Honoring abnormality! Every other normal mammal eliminates the abnormal ones, except humans. I see a problem.

  • I've had enough

    Here's the deal...there should be equal protection under the law for any 2 people that choose to commit to one another for a life time. I absolutely am disgusted by anyone that hides behind their religion, the bible or God to point fingers or chastise anyone. If we all followed what the bible says women couldn't divorce or cut their hair, we aren't supposed to eat pork or work on the Sabbath or planting more than one type of seed in a field. Really? According to some Christian religions Mother Teresa didn't have a chance to go to heaven because she wasn't baptized in their church. Seriously? What makes your religion better or more holier than another?

    I hate to break it to you but the LGBT community is your churches, schools, government and right next door to you. We're not going anywhere. We send our kids to school, pay our taxes, volunteer in our communities, and work hard for what we have. If you ask anyone who has had the courage to "come out" I can pretty much guarantee that they will tell you that this is not what they would've chosen. This life is harder and more challenging but just like someone who can't their race being straight or gay is just a part of who people are and is not the defining factor. I am a practicing Roman Catholic and am in a long term, loving and committed relationship with the love of my life who just so happens to be the same sex. I will not be denied my spirituality nor my personal relationship with God because of your ignorance and what interpretation you have of conjured up of the bible. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

    • Timothy N. Smith

      I hate to break it to you, but the Roman Catholic Church is the "great whore" of Revelation chapter 17. It is she that is drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus!

      It isn't about religion, it's about a relationship! If you haven't been saved by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus, then you will split hell wide open! He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by Him! Glory to God! AMEN!

  • Abram

    Want to make the population nervous? Make it harder to get a divorce. Something that God himself despises.

  • TruthTeller

    Marriage was not created by man. Its was created by God. You can not populate the planet with two people of the same sex.
    Why can't anyone understand that? It is a sin.
    It is unholy and immoral. Changing the meaning of marriage is saying you approve of going against God. How arrogant is man to think he can say no to God and not be punished for it? Stop trying to destroy the original plan of God. SHAME OF YOU. If West Virginia allows this to be legal, I will be ashamed and embarrassed of my home state.


    I believe a marriage is between a man & a woman. Call it a union or something else besides a marriage. I am just sick & tired of it being pushed down my throat.

  • wow

    I don't understand why this is even an issue the government needs to be in. If two homosexuals want to consider themselves married, how is a law going to change their mind. Whether the public approves or not does not matter, they are still going to consider themselves a couple. Those who are against it will still be against it law or no law. I'm not saying I'm in favor of it but what I think is not going to change any ones mind.

    • Aaron

      The issue is the thousands of legal benefits allowed to married couples Dennie's to same sex partners based solely on gender.

    • Jonesy

      The flow of logic here is that if 2 people of the same sex want to be married it would be between them because no one else is effected. The same for a bisexual trio or how ever many combinations you could derive, if 8 or 9 people wanted to be married why should we stand in the way. Then there is the National Man/Boy Love Association we should give equal time, who is working toward abolishing the age of consent so men and boys can have a meaningful relationship without interference from the state. Thankfully, just this past Monday, in San Francisco, Paul Horner married his dog, Mac. This paves the way for a better, more meaningful relationship between a person and their pets. What an age of enlightenment we live in. How will this play out in a few years? God help us.

  • Gary Karstens

    Can't wait till all the sinners post on here with their great knowledge of the Bible!

  • Barry

    For just a minute, throw aside your opinion on this issue. Just look at the situation of judges throwing out the will of the people. Our country has a democratic system, where the will of the people is supposed to reign. So, tell me where it is unconstitutional for a MAJORITY of people to vote to ban something, and expect it to stay that way? What happened to our democratic system, if the MAJORITY can vote, then have their vote overturned by ONE judge?

    • Aaron

      I would concur with SMW that Barry is inaccurate when he says we have a Democratic system and that we are instead a Constitutional Republic with a rule of law. The only thing I would add is that our rule of law is based on a Constitution that was voted on directly by Representatives of the people, not the state legislatures. That Constitution has stood the test of time and is as relevant today as it was some 235 years ago when it was ratified. What makes it relevant is that included is a mechanism for change should the "will of the people" demand it. If you want to define marriage then a Constitutional Amendment is required. There is currently an amendment proposed in the House of Representatives. The last time it was voted on, it failed by 67 votes.

    • SMW

      Actually, Barry, we DON'T have a democratic system. We have a representative republic, wherein we vote in legislators to enact laws for us. However, as part of the checks and balances in place, it is the judiciary's job to determine if the laws passed by those representatives are constitutional or not. Were it not for the ability of the courts to protect our civil rights, the majority could have (and have) imposed slavery, disenfranchisement, discrimination etc. on others.

      • RDC

        You are so right SMW, but it is a big hill to climb. I've even heard our wonderful President and VP say we live in a democracy.
        To make it simple, a democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.
        That will probably go over a lot of heads.

      • wv4evah

        Excellent comment SMW

  • B

    Another federal overreach!!

    • Aaron

      How is enforcing the Constitution an overreach?