A federal judge overturned Virginia’s state constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The story, linked after the jump, points out that thus far federal judges have thrown out ALL state bans on gay marriage where the issue has been litigated. The Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act in part, it was said, because that imposes a federal law that prevents states from deciding what they want marriage to be, saying that such issues should be left up to the states. But in reality, states are not allowed by federal courts to determine their marriage laws at all.
[U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen] joined a so-far unanimous group of federal judges considering a question that Supreme Court justices left unanswered in June in their first consideration of gay marriage: Does a state’s traditional role in defining marriage mean it may ban same-sex unions without violating the equal protection and due process rights of gay men and lesbians?
All have answered that the reasoning the court used to strike part of the Defense of Marriage Act– which forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in those states where it is legal–means states cannot defend the marriage bans.
Wright Allen put it this way: “The legitimate purposes proffered by the proponents for the challenged laws—to promote conformity to the traditions and heritage of a majority of Virginia’s citizens, to perpetuate a generally recognized deference to the state’s will pertaining to domestic relations laws, and, finally, to endorse ‘responsible procreation’—share no rational link with Virginia marriage laws being challenged.”
She added: “The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose.”