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August 5, 2013

Last week, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in Virginia as well as an end to Virginia’s refusal to recognize marriages same-sex couples have legally entered elsewhere.

The case was filed on behalf of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester, and seeks to represent all same-sex couples in Virginia who wish to marry there or who have married in other jurisdictions.

From the Washington Post:

The suit comes on the same day that Minnesota and Rhode Island became the 12th and 13th states to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


No Southern state allows same-sex marriage at this point; activists are pursuing litigation in Virginia because it would be difficult to overturn the state’s ban legislatively, given that the the General Assembly must pass the initiative in two different years with an election for the House of Delegates in between before it can be voted on by the public in a referendum.

Read the full article here.

Also in the Washington Post:

“This is one America,” said Greg Nevins, a senior attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. “It’s time for the freedom to marry to come to the South.”

The complaint highlights the two couples’ conservative backgrounds as well as what they describe as the ban’s economic and emotional impact on their families.

Read the full article here.

From the Richmond, Va., Times Dispatch:

“Virginia is home for us. Our families are here, our jobs are here, and our community is a great support for us, but it makes us sad that we cannot get married where we live,” said [Joanne] Harris in a prepared statement.

Harris, a Bedford native, said, “It hits me in the gut that two hours from our house same-sex couples in Maryland and D.C. can marry. I have a serious medical condition and we've had to spend lots of money to try to make sure that Jessi can make decisions for me if there were ever a crisis.”

Read the full article here.

From 8 News (WRIC-TV Richmond):

"My family is everything to me," says Victoria Kidd. But for her, her family is not recognized in Virginia.

"Right now, when I go to work in D.C. I am married with a child, when I go home to the state of Virginia I am considered single, " says her partner Christy Berghoff.

Watch the full clip below:

Learn more about the case, Harris et al. v. McDonnell et al.

Meet the couples, Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd.