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Local Reaction: Supreme Court Rules on Gay Marriage

by ARLnow.com — June 26, 2013 at 10:45 am 0

Rainbow flag(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) This morning, in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

The high court also ruled on California’s Proposition 8. The ruling will have the end effect of allowing gay marriages in the state of California, barring further legal challenges.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, issued the following statement about the ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today puts the court on the right side of history. DOMA is unjust, un-American, and out of step with the values of our country. Beginning today, same-sex couples in the 12 freedom to marry states will be eligible for the federal protections and responsibilities afforded all other married couples.

Our nation has a long history of fighting to overcome discrimination to secure civil rights for all citizens. I hope this decision gives momentum to efforts across the country to enshrine marriage equality into our laws. Discrimination has no place in our country.

Republicans have wasted more than $3 million on this lawsuit over the past three years. That’s unconscionable while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs.

The Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal” and that every American has a right to “the pursuit of happiness.” These principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.

Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, talked to ARLnow.com shortly after the rulings. An excerpt:

It’s a terrific day for the country and for fairness. It’s another important step forward for the inevitability of marriage equality.

You feel a sense of pride at the progress and the ability of people in this country to learn and grow and address the irrational fears that existed 30 years ago. It’s so wonderful that a country and a democracy can make [this progress] despite the challenges.

This does not provide what I would call marriage equality across the board for all Americans. One thing has not changed: Bob [Rosen, Jay's partner] and I cannot get married in Virginia. In Virginia, we have… a conservative General Assembly that has no interest in providing marriage equality. We’re still in the baby steps phase.

Fisette said that while he and Rosen have in the past rejected the “symbolism” of getting married in another jurisdiction, like D.C. (which allows same-sex marriage), the DOMA decision may prompt them to reconsider.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, released the following statement about the DOMA decision.

I applaud the Supreme Court for their decision today because everyone should be treated equally. While I support marriage equality, I understand that this is an issue that Virginians of goodwill come down on both sides of. This decision moves our nation in the right direction, but there is more to be done to ensure we have equality for all.

My opponent has spent his career putting up walls around Virginia and telling gay Virginians that they’re not welcome. He even went so far as to order public colleges and universities to remove protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation for faculty and students. We must make Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family, and there is no place in our future for intolerance or discriminatory rhetoric.

State Senator and candidate for Lt. Governor Ralph Northam issued the following statement.

I applaud the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of marriage equality and for seeing the Defense of Marriage Act for what it is: a divisive policy that unjustly discriminates against millions of Americans. I am running to put a stop to the divisive agenda that has been a roadblock to progress here in Virginia, and as Lieutenant Governor I will work to further the cause of equality because discrimination has no place in our Commonwealth.

The following statement is from Brian Gottstein, spokesman in the Office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), who is running for governor.

Virginia has followed the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for more than 400 years, and Virginians voted overwhelmingly to add this traditional definition to their constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision in California’s Proposition 8 case could have had implications for all states with marriage laws similar to California’s. As the attorney general’s legal duty is to vigorously defend Virginia’s laws when they are challenged, he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in conjunction with several other states in the California case and used every available legal argument to defend Virginia’s Constitution and preserve the will of the citizens of the commonwealth.

Today, the court’s two decisions on marriage make clear that the rulings have no effect on the Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage.

Consistent with the duties of the attorney general, this office will continue to defend challenges to the constitution and the laws of Virginia.

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