Tuesday, July 29, 2014

LDS Member Condemns 4th Circuit Court Of Appeals Decision To Overturn Virginia's Gay Marriage Ban

On Monday July 28th, 2014, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declared Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional by a 2-1 vote. Judge Henry Floyd, appointed to the bench by Barack Obama, was joined by Judge Roger Gregory (appointed by Bill Clinton) in the majority, while Judge Paul Niemeyer (appointed by George H.W. Bush) dissented. Not surprisingly, Judge Floyd played the 14th Amendment card, and cited the landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which overturned the state’s law against interracial marriage, implied a fundamental right to marry that may stretch to accommodate changing societal norms. In contrast, Judge Niemeyer noted that because there exist deep, fundamental differences between traditional and same-sex marriage, the plaintiffs and the majority erred by conflating the two relationships under the loosely drawn rubric of "the right to marriage".

The case resulted from a homosexual Norfolk couple’s lawsuit against the clerk of Norfolk Circuit Court after he refused to issue them a marriage license. The ruling upheld a federal judge’s earlier ruling that the clerk’s decision in accordance with a state constitutional ban against same-sex matrimonial unions violated the men’s rights under the U.S. Constitution. Essentially, the court affirmed that the U.S. Constitution trumps the state constitution’s proscription against gay marriage.

-- Read the 98-page opinion issued in Case No. 14-1167, Bostic v. Schaefer (PDF format)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, all Democrats, acclaimed the court's decision. The Virginia clerks were expected to seek a stay of the decision, pending either a rehearing by the full circuit court, or consideration of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court. Byron Babione, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that represented one of the clerks, said they were considering their next steps. Among other media outlets reporting reaction was the Suffolk News-Herald, and the response of 48-year-old Annette Lewis, identified as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was included. Here's the excerpt:

Annette Lewis, 48, referred to marriage between two individuals of the same gender as an “abomination.”

“I don’t have anything against gay people,” she said, “but the Bible that I read says that it’s wrong.”

Lewis said she reads the King James Version of the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“The court made a wrong decision, because it’s supposed to be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Paul, and you can quote me on that,” she said.

The LDS Church officially defines marriage as only between one man and one woman, but has disavowed any intent to take disciplinary action against Church members who support legalizing gay marriage.

According to the Washington Post, as of July 28th, 20 states allow gay marriage, and bans against same-sex marriage have been ruled unconstitutional in 11 other states, including Virginia. Court challenges against gay marriage bans have been mounted in all other states.

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