Attorney General requests continued delay in case against state’s same-sex marriage ban

CHARLESTON, W. Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is requesting a federal judge delay action in a case against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Two days after the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 ruling which claimed Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Morrisey’s office filed the motion.

On June 10, Judge Chuck Chambers stayed the case referred to as McGee v. Cole to see how the 4th Circuit would rule in Virginia’s case.

The attorney general is requesting the continuance of this stay, writing, “the State urges the Court to continue to stay its consideration of the merits in this case until the 4 Circuit issues the mandate in [the Virginia case]. As this Court is aware, the Fourth Circuit’s decision has no binding legal effect until the mandate issues.”

Morrisey reasons the mandate will not be issued until 21 days after the decision and a potential appeal would delay implementation of the ruling.

A ruling by Judge Chambers could lead to confusion and further lawsuits, Morrisey wrote.

“Where district courts have failed to take steps to allow for orderly appellate review, confusion has followed. In Utah, for example, 1400 same-sex couples sought marriage licenses during the time between a federal district court’s decision and the Supreme Court issuing a stay…A second lawsuit ensued to resolve whether these licenses were valid, a lawsuit that would have been unnecessary had the district court issued a prompt stay.”

The office is also requesting a date for arguments to be set on the “Jurisdictional And Procedural Issues” of the case.

In the case of McGee v. Cole, three same sex couples in West Virginia filed the lawsuit against Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick and Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole saying they’d been denied marriage licenses, which they argue violated their constitutional rights.

Morrisey intervened in the case, claiming he must defend the constitutionality of West Virginia’s constitution and the ban. He also cited no other state agencies were listed as defendants.

The motion filed Wednesday requests the arguments because “The [Virginia] case and other similar cases working toward the Supreme Court do not have the core problem that is present in this case: the absence of the state officials charged under state law with the administration of state marriage laws. Indeed, other courts have held that the presence of such state officials as defendants have given rise to jurisdiction to consider the merits.”

Later on Wednesday, lawyers representing the same-sex couples filed a motion requesting Judge Chambers deny Morrisey’s request, take up the case once more and rule in their favor, citing the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling.

The court has yet to respond to either request.

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