Staunton, Winchester Couples Plaintiffs In Suit Over Ban
HARRISONBURG — A case that may determine whether Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage defies the Constitution moved forward today in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski heard arguments in the suit involving two Virginia couples who say that the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses.
Couples Jessica Duff and Joanne Harris, of Staunton, and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd, of Winchester, are the plaintiffs in the case.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, Janet M. Rainey, state registrar of vital records, and Thomas E. Roberts, Staunton Circuit Court clerk, are named as defendants.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs motioned today for class certification, which would allow them to represent the two couples named in the suit, as well as all same-sex couples in the state. Filing for class certification is standard procedure in class-action suits.
Urbanski also heard motions from defense attorneys looking to remove McDonnell and Roberts as defendants in the suit. Solicitor General E. Duncan Getchell, Jr., who is representing McDonnell, said that removing him from the suit was a matter of sovereignty and argued that the governor has no specific enforcement over same-sex marriage. Roberts’ attorney, Rosalie Pemberton Fessier, is arguing that the “plaintiffs suffered no constitutional injury as a result of any act or omission of Roberts,” making his presence in the suit “unnecessary.”
Urbanski will issue written opinions on all three motions but he gave no indication on when he would hand down his ruling.
The Daily News-Record will have a complete report on today's proceedings in Wednesday's print and web editions.