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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 14 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 11
Appeals court OKs quick hearing for Virginia marriage case Lambda Legal and ACLU join case
Section One
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Appeals court OKs quick hearing for Virginia marriage case Lambda Legal and ACLU join case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a motion by American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) for an expedited schedule in Bostic v. Schaefer, formerly Bostic v. Rainey, the Virginia marriage equality case.

The appeals court also granted motions by Lambda Legal and the ACLU to intervene in the case. Lambda and ACLU have filed the class action suit Harris v. Rainey challenging Virginia's marriage laws on behalf of 'all Virginia's same-sex couples.'

Opening briefs in Bostic v. Schaefer are due March 28, and reply briefs are due April 11, AFER said in a March 10 press release. Oral arguments have been tentatively scheduled for the week of May 12.

Federal District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled on February 13 that Virginia law violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring have declined to defend the ban on same-sex marriage, which is now defended by two county clerks.

Spokespeople for Lambda Legal and the ACLU said they were pleased to be allowed to join the case.

'We are pleased the court granted our motion to intervene because the Bostic appeal could decide the fate of not only both couples involved, but also the entire class of more than 14,000 same-sex couples in Virginia whom we represent,' said Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

'We are still waiting for a decision in the Harris case, but allowing the Harris class to intervene in the Bostic case allows the two cases to be consolidated on appeal without delaying or disrupting either case. We want the freedom to marry to come to lesbians and gay men in Virginia as swiftly as possible.'

'We're thrilled that all of Virginia's same-sex couples will be before the court of appeals together, arguing for the freedom to marry and bringing their many compelling stories to the common cause,' said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project.'

On the other hand, the original attorneys in the Bostic case worried that adding new parties to the suit would delay the proceedings.

'The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia - and other states in the Fourth Circuit - are experiencing real harm,' co-counsel for the Bostic plaintiffs Matthew McGill told the Washington Blade.

'We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.'

AFER chief counsels Ted Olson and David Boies, who argued the Prop 8 case before the U.S. Supreme Court, are reportedly eager for a return engagement to argue for a broad marriage rights ruling based on the Fourteenth Amendment, and think that the Virginia case might be the best vehicle for them.

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