WASHINGTON — Following on the heels of Utah officials and an Oklahoma clerk, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Friday asked the Supreme Court to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of his state's ban on same-sex couples' marriages.
What distinguishes Herring's filing, representing Virginia State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey, is that his is the first request to the Supreme Court by a party that backs the position of same-sex couples that the ban is unconstitutional.
Of the reason for hearing the claim, Herring's filing, led by Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael, argues that the Supreme Court should accept certiorari in the case because "[t]he question presented is vital to a large population of same-sex couples, to their children, and to their fellow Americans who believe that discriminating against gay people is both unfair and unconstitutional. They may fairly call this 'the defining civil rights issue of our time.'"
As to why the Supreme Court should hear the case challenging the Virginia ban, specifically, the brief states, "Virginia's same-sex-marriage ban is one of the most stringent in the country. It goes further than [California's] Proposition 8 by barring and refusing to recognize civil unions and by preventing same-sex couples from adopting children. It also goes further than Utah's ban, which at least preserves contractual rights exercised independently of the same-sex-marriage restriction. Virginia law voids 'any contractual rights created by' same- sex marriages entered into in another State."
Michèle McQuigg, the clerk of the circuit court in Prince William County, also has said that she will be filing a certiorari petition in the Virginia case. Like the clerk in Oklahoma, McQuigg is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group. Unlike Herring, McQuigg is defending the constitutionality of the ban.