Virginia to ask Supreme Court to take on same-sex marriage case

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Tuesday he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Virginia's same-sex marriage suit.

Herring says he plans to file the petition Friday to "definitively settle the constitutional issues for the Commonwealth and the rest of the country." Utah filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court earlier Tuesday.

A filing Tuesday in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals requested the Court stay its mandate pending the Supreme Court's decision whether to hear the case.

The three-judge panel split 2-1 last week to uphold a prior district court's decision the state's ban is unconstitutional.

Click here to read the full ruling:

"Throughout this case, I have fought for the fundamental rights of Virginians and the quickest possible resolution," said Attorney General Herring. "I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia's discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word. I want that decision to come as soon as possible and I want the voices of Virginians to be heard. This case has moved forward at an incredibly swift pace, and I look forward to a final resolution that affirms the fundamental right of all Virginians to marry."

Virginia's General Assembly approved the same-sex marriage ban in 2005 and it was ratified into law by 57 percent of voters in 2006.

Attorney General Mark Herring has sided with same-sex marriage advocates, however both sides have conceded the final decision likely will be made in the Supreme Court.

The law is being challenged by Timothy Bostic and Tony London, a Virginia Beach couple, as well as Carol Schall and Mary Townley from Chesterfield.

Bostic and London have been in a relationship since 1989 and have lived together for more than 20 years. They applied for a marriage license in Norfolk in July 2013, but were denied by the clerk of court.

Schall and Townley have been together since 1985, have a child together and were legally wed in California in 2008.

Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester also joined the suit.

Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, according to the Associated Press, however those rulings remain in various stages of appeal.

Same-sex marriage is currently legal in the District of Columbia and 19 states. In all, the AP counts more than 70 cases filed in the remaining 31 states prohibiting same-sex marriage.

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