Same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states; West Virginia leaders react

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gay and lesbian couples will now be able to marry anywhere in the United States, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday to legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states.

In West Virginia and 35 other states along with Washington, D.C., those couples were already allowed to marry. In a 5-4 ruling Friday, the court called for an end to bans on same-sex marriages in the 14 other states.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin commented on┬áthe Court’s decision, saying West Virginia has recognized same sex marriage since October 2014 and that state agencies have already taken steps to ensure equality.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling confirms those actions, and I continue to encourage all West Virginians, regardless of their personal beliefs, to uphold our state’s tradition of treating one another with dignity and respect,” Tomblin said in a statement.

Other state officials have shared their thoughts with MetroNews about the court’s ruling.

Andrew Schneider, the executive director of Fairness West Virginia, said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline” this makes it clear that the love and commitment shared by gay and lesbian couples is now equal under the law.

“It’s a great decision for equality and it’s a great decision in terms of putting us on the right side of history,” said Schneider. “People are coming to accept this as the right thing to do.”

Schneider said one part he likes about the ruling is that “nothing terrible happens” and that it’s a positive step forward.

Elsewhere, State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was against the ruling saying on “Talkline” he was “very disappointed” and that the decision was no surprise to him.

“States should be able to define marriage, that’s always been my position,” said Morrisey. “At the end of the day, you cannot deprive people the opportunity to debate issues themselves. Having unelected judges usurp the people’s voice is really problematic.”

Describing himself as a dedicated Evangelical Christian, Allen Whitt, the president of Family Council of West Virginia, said the ruling will impact churches and non-profit organizations in a negative way.

“I follow the Biblical view of marriage which is exclusively defined as the joining together of one man and one woman. We have accepted that as the definition for marriage from time on in,” Whitt said. “Any congregation that says ‘hey, we’re not going to participate in this — you’re in violation of someone’s civil rights.”

Friday’s outcome came from a culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage and gay rights in general.

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