Could West Virginia see marriage equality this summer?
With any luck, West Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban could be terminated before the end of summer.
A lawsuit has been put on hold by a federal judge in West Virginia until a higher court decision can be made. Currently, West Virginia law bans same-sex marriage and does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The West Virginia lawsuit challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Three couples in Huntington filed the lawsuit in October of last year.
The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will decide on a similar Virginia case, Bostic v. Schaefer. The ruling is expected this summer.
The 4th Circuit ruling will have an influence on how the West Virginia case should be decided.
West Virginia is under the 4th Circuit along with Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. Maryland is the only one out of the five states that allows same-sex marriage already.
It is likely that the 4th Circuit will rule in favor of same-sex marriage, allowing West Virginia to lift its ban.
Some have questioned the logic of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert C. Chambers in his decision to delay the ruling of the West Virginia case, but he made the right move if he wants West Virginia to achieve marriage equality in the near future.
Chambers could have made a hasty decision on the case, although whatever decision the higher court makes on the issue will be binding in the West Virginia case, so it makes sense to wait.
Chambers’ decision to wait on the Circuit Court’s ruling could in fact accelerate the state’s journey to marriage equality by cutting out another appeals process.
Judges in North and South Carolina are also waiting on the Circuit Court’s ruling before deciding similar cases.
Across the country same-sex marriage bans are being frequently struck down by federal and district courts, therefore it seems likely that the 4th Circuit Court will rule similarly in the Virginia case.
If everything works out for marriage equality to be achieved in West Virginia this year, it will be a huge step for the state as a whole and one the state should be proud of taking.
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