It's Time to Allow Same-Sex Couples in West Virginia to Marry

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December 31, 2013
Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Beth Littrell

Lambda Legal asked a federal court in West Virginia today to rule swiftly for three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry.

Since we filed our lawsuit in October, same-sex couples in four more states have secured the ability to marry. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every state and should be treated the same way. When same-sex couples in West Virginia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that they are second class citizens and their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect.

This case is about fairness and equality for these West Virginia families, and we are asking the court to recognize that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law applies to everyone. Every day that these families are without the protections and responsibilities that marriage provides, they are vulnerable.

Lambda Legal plaintiff Nancy Michael, a lifelong West Virginian, says:

The list of states where relationships like ours are fully respected keeps growing, but we continue to be treated like second class citizens here at home. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us. How long are we expected to wait before we are able to make our vows here, too?

Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn’t enough. We need the protection that only marriage affords.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal argues that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Today Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, which includes testimony from the three plaintiff couples and argues that the time to grant the freedom to marry for West Virginia same-sex couples is now.

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