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Judge Strikes Down Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

Ruling by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen sets the stage for a possible Supreme Court showdown, though cases from Utah and Oklahoma also are headed that way.
Judge Strikes Down Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

So at least theoretically, Virginia is for lovers -- and marriage:

A federal judge in Virginia has struck down the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage, joining a growing list of state and federal courts that have granted gay and lesbian couples the right to marry following two landmark Supreme Court rulings in June.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen's ruling had been expected since the case was heard in her Norfolk courtroom last week. Also as expected, she blocked it from taking immediate effect until appeals are heard. As a result, gay marriages in Virginia cannot begin yet.

"Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships," Wright Allen said. "Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference."

Her decision follows similar rulings in Oklahoma and Utah, even more conservative states, where federal judges recently struck down gay marriage bans. Those cases are scheduled to be heard a week apart by a federal appeals court panel in April; the Virginia case now joins them in a race toward the Supreme Court.

And in recent days, Nevada state officials decided they could no longer defend the state's same-sex marriage ban, and a judge in Kentucky ruled that the state must recognize gay marriages from other states.

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