Virginia just became the latest state to have its same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
The state's attorney general Mark Herring happily announced the news on his Twitter account:
*ALERT* Equality marches forward in VA: Federal judge declares state's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Issues stay pending appeal.— Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) February 14, 2014
From ruling: "VA's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny VA's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry."— Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) February 14, 2014
"VA law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits VA's recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional."— Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) February 14, 2014
From ruling: "Laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process & equal protection guaranteed under the 14th Amendment of US Constitution."— Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) February 14, 2014
From ruling: "Court stays execution of this injunction pending the final disposition of any appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals."— Mark Herring (@AGMarkHerring) February 14, 2014
The full ruling is here, but here's the key phrase:
The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.
Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.
Make no mistake, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen thinks laws banning same-sex marriage are unfair and discriminatory.
Virginia's gay couples can't get married just yet, though. As Herring said, the ruling has been stayed pending appeal. This is the case in several states right now, including Utah and Oklahoma. Those states' appeals are being heard in April. Just yesterday, a federal judge ruled against part of Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban, ordering the state to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state.