The fate of gay couples in Virginia who want to get married could be in the hands of a federal judge. Outside a Norfolk courtroom Tuesday, those for and against gay marriage spoke out - as a judge heard a Chesterfield couple's argument. One of those pledging his support is Attorney General, Mark Herring.
Emotions ran high with people passionate on both sides. Holding signs that say ‘marry who you love', the judge heard the case from people who believe that and from those who feel quite differently.
Depending who you ask, it's more than a matter of right and wrong.
"The bible that we Christians read says God made marriage between one man and one woman," said minister E.W. Jackson.
For a Chesterfield couple fighting in court, it's personal.
"This is my partner of almost 30 years Carol and our daughter Emily," said Mary Townley.
She and Carol Schall are part of a suit claiming Virginia's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
"Carol is not recognized as my wife even though we were married in California in 2008. Virginia does not recognize our marriage," Townley added.
Her attorneys told a federal judge denying gay couples that right is like treating them as second class citizens.
"In recent weeks my decision to change the states position in this case has drawn some criticism from predictable corners, though none of that criticism has focused on my legal conclusion regarding the constitutionality of the ban," Herring told reporters.
He believes it's time for Virginia to reverse a 2006 decision where voters banned same-sex marriage.
"I'm deeply concerned that we have an Attorney General who thinks he knows better than the majority of people who voted after a long deliberative process," Jackson said.
Opponents remained adamant in their argument.
"We've always had marriage laws because we have children and we recognize every child has a mother and a father," said Austin Nimocks, who argued in front of the judge.
He says Virginia's voters have spoken.
Still, this couple is fighting to show, they're just like anyone else.
"We own a home in the suburbs. We participate in basketball games, PTA meetings. We go to work every day," Townley said.
The hearing lasted two hours. After both sides presented their cases, the judge wrapped it all up saying she'll take this matter under advisement and make a ruling soon.
Nimocks said if the judge decides to lift the ban, he will appeal the decision.
Opposition groups are calling for Herring's impeachment, saying he is not defending and upholding the laws of the Commonwealth.
Tuesday, August 26 2014 11:40 PM EDT2014-08-27 03:40:46 GMT
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