Victory! West Virginia Attorney General Concedes Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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October 9, 2014
Lambda Legal clients Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton with their son.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey today agreed to end the state’s defense of WV’s discriminatory marriage ban in Lambda Legal’s marriage case one day after the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia lifted its stay on the case, McGee v. Cole. et. al.

The state’s change in position comes after Monday’s announcement from the Supreme Court denying review of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in McQuigg v. Bostic striking down Virginia’s marriage ban, finalizing that ruling and providing a controlling precedent for all the states within the 4th Circuit including West Virginia.

Karen Loewy, Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney, said:

The Attorney General has conceded that the West Virginia marriage ban is unconstitutional. Given the ruling on the Bostic case, the Fourth Circuit’s decision is final and West Virginia’s same-sex couples should be able to marry imminently. We applaud the Governor’s directive to state agencies to follow these rulings and expect that all public officials, including clerks across the state, will comply and allow couples to marry.

West Virginia’s same-sex couples should be able to marry immediately and we invite people to be in touch with Lambda Legal’s Help Desk if they encounter any difficulty getting a marriage license or having it respected.

Lambda Legal filed this lawsuit in October 2013 on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple, arguing that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples 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.

Those with questions or concerns about discrimination or denial of a protection to which they are entitled should contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk at 1-866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/help

Read the press release.