The federal judge who heard the case against Virginia’s 2006 ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday (Feb. 4) in Norfolk said a decision could come quickly.
“You’ll be hearing from me soon,” U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen said at the close of a nearly two-hour hearing in Norfolk Tuesday, in a case expected to have repercussions on marriage-equality laws throughout the South.
Newly elected Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced last month that he would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, challenged by the two same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, claiming it violates the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.
Herring’s announcement that he would side with the plaintiffs came on the heels of court rulings in which federal judges struck down gay-marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage, but most are clustered in the Northeast; none are in the South.
Nationwide, there are more than a dozen states with federal lawsuits challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.