September 23, 2014 at 11:05 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
McAuliffe: Va. is ‘going to have marriage equality’

Washington Blade, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday said he is optimistic same-sex couples will soon be able to marry in the commonwealth. (Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday said he remains confident same-sex couples will soon be able to legally marry in the commonwealth.

“I want you all to know that in the commonwealth of Virginia, we are going to have marriage equality,” he said during brief remarks he made during a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser at the Ritz Carlton in Washington’s West End neighborhood. “As governor, I am going to preside over marriage equality and I promise you that.”

McAuliffe’s comments come less than a week before justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled to meet to consider whether to accept seven petitions to hear same-sex marriage cases from Virginia and four other states.

“With the Supreme Court, we are going to make this done for you,” said McAuliffe.

Same-sex couples are currently able to legally marry in 19 states and D.C.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in February struck down Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman in a case that Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk originally filed last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. A three-judge panel with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond in July upheld Allen’s decision.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who announced in January shortly after taking office that he would not defend the marriage amendment, along with lawyers representing Bostic and London and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield, who joined the case last September, last month petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue.

Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the 4th Circuit’s ruling — the justices issued their decision on Aug. 20, hours before same-sex couples would have been able to legally marry in the commonwealth. Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, who is also a defendant in the Bostic case, two days later also petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue.

Va. governor a ‘bold ally’ and ‘great champion of equality’

HRC President Chad Griffin described McAuliffe as “a bold ally” and “a great champion of equality.”

Griffin noted, among other things, the first executive order that McAuliffe issued after taking office banned discrimination against LGBT state employees.

“I believe in Virginia that everybody ought to have equal rights, they ought to have civil rights and we should not discriminate against anyone on any issue,” said McAuliffe. “As long as I’m governor folks, you have a friend in the Governor’s Mansion in Virginia.”

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

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