Fourth Circuit Refuses To Stay Ruling Against Virginia’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to stay the effect of its ruling striking down Virginia’s state Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage:

A federal appeals court panel refused to stay its decision striking Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, which means the unions could start next week absent further judicial action.

Opponents of the law said they will ask the Supreme Court to stay the decision before marriages could start Aug. 20. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on July 28 struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of such marriages performed in states where it is legal.

“Because the 4th Circuit chose not to place a hold on its decision, as other courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – have done in nearly identical cases, we intend to ask the high court to do so in this case before the 4th Circuit’s mandate goes into effect,” said Byrone Babione, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom. The conservative legal organization represents Prince William County Clerk of Court Michéle B. McQuigg, who is defending the law.

“We trust the Supreme Court will grant our request in order to ensure an orderly and dignified resolution of this important constitutional question,” Babione said.

The request will go first to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who receives emergency requests from the 4th Circuit, and then will likely be referred to the full court.

The justices stopped marriages in Utah after judges there found that state’s ban unconstitutional and refused to issue a stay.

Proponents of same-sex marriage welcomed the 4th Circuit panel’s refusal to stay its order.

“There is no doubt that Virginia is ready for the freedom to marry,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “We are thrilled that the 4th Circuit denied the request for a stay and hope that we will see wedding celebrations in Virginia as early as next week. Marriage validates the commitment couples make to one another and, if the Supreme Court doesn’t intervene, achieving marriage equality in Virginia will be a tremendous step forward.”

Twice already, the Supreme Court has blocked Circuit Court rulings striking down same-sex marriage — with respect to both Utah and Oklahoma — so I would expect that they will do the same thing here. That shouldn’t be seen as an indication of how the Court may ultimately rule on the issue, however. Instead, it is a reflection of the general idea that the status quo should be maintained in situations such as this where the Constitutionality of a particular law is in dispute.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. DrDaveT says:

    the Alliance Defending Freedom

    Man, George Orwell did not exaggerate at all. Y’all defend those freedoms hard now, y’hear?