Lawyers for Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer filed a 231-page motion that notes, among other things, Virginia voters in 2006 approved a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
“Virginia’s citizens, like those of most states, have chosen to keep the man-woman definition,” reads the motion. “Virginia has always defined marriage this way.”
The filing comes two days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay a ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that would have allowed gays and lesbians to begin marrying in Virginia on Thursday.
Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk filed a lawsuit against the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban in July 2013 after Schaefer’s office refused to issue them a marriage license. Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield joined the case last fall.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal last August filed a separate lawsuit against Virginia’s gay nuptials ban on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley that a federal judge earlier this year certified as a class action.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in January announced he would not defend the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban. He has subsequently argued against its constitutionality before the two federal courts that have considered the case.
Herring earlier this month petitioned the justices to consider the case. Prince William County Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg, a second defendant in the lawsuit whom the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom represents, has announced she plans to do the same.
“This only reinforces what is now abundantly clear: the Supreme Court must decide this issue, and soon,” said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which represents Bostic and London and Schall and Townley, in a statement after Schaefer’s lawyers petitioned the justices to hear the lawsuit. “Every day that gay and lesbian Americans are denied the freedom to marry is one day too many.”