January 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
First hearing in Virginia marriage lawsuit scheduled

Carol Schall, Mary Townley, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Virginia

Carol Schall (left) with Mary Townley and their daughter Emily. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The first hearing in a federal lawsuit that challenges Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is scheduled to take place in Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 30.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will hold the hearing in the lawsuit that Tim Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk filed in July. Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Richmond are also plaintiffs in the case the American Foundation for Equal Rights joined in September.

“This case is about liberty,” David Boies said during a Sept. 30 press conference in D.C. during which AFER formally announced he and Ted Olson, who argued against California’ s Proposition before the U.S. Supreme Court, had joined the case. “It’s about the pursuit of happiness. It’s about the inalienable right of every individual to marry the person who they love.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia in August filed a class action federal lawsuit against the commonwealth’s gay nuptials ban on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who had been denied marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski on Dec. 23 ruled Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas E. Roberts and Janet Rainey, the state registrar of vital records, will remain defendants in the case. He removed outgoing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell from the lawsuit because he is not specifically responsible for enforcing the state’s marriage laws.

Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General-elect Mark Herring both support nuptials for gays and lesbians.

It remains unclear whether they will defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban once they take office on Saturday.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and state Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) are among the Virginia lawmakers that have introduced resolutions that would seek a repeal of the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban that voters approved in 2006.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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