Tuesday, Lambda Legal announced that it is in the planning stages of a new federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Virginia with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“The end of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act opens a new chapter in our work to ensure same-sex couples and their families across the country are treated with dignity and respect,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “We know that many same-sex couples and their families have waited a long time and we are excited to announce that the campaign for the freedom to marry is coming south.”
“We do not want a country so divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or Virginia. This is one America,” added Nevins.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the federal, so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional and also restored the freedom to marry in California. Nearly one-third of the U.S. population now lives in a state with marriage equality. But many states – like Virginia and all of our nation’s other Southern states – do not currently allow or respect marriages of same-sex couples. State laws that exclude same-sex couples from marriage not only harm those couples by denying them state rights and responsibilities, but also currently pose obstacles for legally married couples and surviving spouses seeking numerous federal protections and benefits, such as Social Security.
Lambda Legal will file a marriage lawsuit in Virginia as co-counsel with the ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia in the coming weeks. Virginia couples who have suffered from discrimination and are interested in sharing how marriage discrimination harms their families or being a part of a campaign for the freedom to marry are encouraged to fill out a survey here.
Lambda Legal has been fighting for same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry for decades. Lambda Legal first fought for marriage equality in Hawaii almost 20 years ago; won the original California marriage equality suit with its colleagues at the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights; contributed to the overturning of Prop. 8 with those groups and its colleagues at GLAD; won a unanimous decision allowing same-sex couples to marry in Iowa from that state’s Supreme Court in 2009; and has ongoing marriage equality lawsuits in federal court in Nevada and in the state courts of New Jersey and Illinois.