It's Time to Allow Same-Sex Couples in West Virginia to Marry, Lambda Legal Urges Court

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December 31, 2013

(Huntington, WV, December 31, 2013) - Lambda Legal today filed a motion for summary judgment asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia 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," said Beth Littrell, a Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office. "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,” Littrell said. “Every day that these families are without the protections and responsibilities that marriage provides, they are vulnerable.”

The plaintiffs include: Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, together for 16 years, and their six-year-old son, Drew; Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, together for more than three years; and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, together for more than two years.

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, 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.

“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?” said Nancy Michael, a lifelong West Virginian. “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.”

Read the motion.

Lambda Legal attorneys Beth Littrell, Karen Loewy and Camilla Taylor are handling the case, joined by West Virginia co-counsel Jack Tinney and Heather Foster Kittredge of Tinney Law Firm, PLLC and cooperating attorneys Paul Smith and Lindsay Harrison of Jenner & Block.

The case is McGee al. v. Cole et al.


Contact Info

Lambda Legal Contact: Jonathan Adams Cell: 646-752-3251; Email: jadams@lambdalegal.org Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.