And another ban on marriage equality hits the dirt.
A federal appeals court on Monday struck down Virginia’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying that withholding the fundamental right to marry from gay couples is a new form of “segregation” that the Constitution cannot abide.
The 2-to-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, upheld a lower court’s decision and extended an extraordinary winning streak in the federal courts for proponents of same-sex marriage.
Legal challenges to state bans filed systematically nationwide have prevailed in every test since the Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Two federal appeals courts have now said the bans are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court probably will have to make the final determination and could consider the issue as soon as next year.
This ruling is for Virginia, but the court also oversees three other states: Maryland and the Carolinas. Maryland already allows same-sex marriage; it’s not yet clear whether the ruling has a direct impact on the other two states. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has announced that he will no longer defend that state’s ban.
Meanwhile, couples in Virginia have three more weeks to wait until the ban is ended, pending appeal.