Motion Filed for Stay on 4th Circuit Virginia Marriage Ruling
By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
August 7, 2014
RICHMOND, VA. — If the legality of same-sex marriage is ultimately going to be decided by the Supreme Court, shouldn’t we wait for that ruling before implementing the 4th Circuit’s July 28 decision against Virginia’s Marriage Protection Amendment? That’s part of the reasoning behind a motion filed Aug. 1 asking that the 2-1 decision be stayed while Bostic v. Schaefer is appealed to the High Court.
“Every child deserves a mom and a dad, and the people of Virginia confirmed that at the ballot box when they approved a constitutional amendment that affirms marriage as a man-woman union. The people of Virginia and every other state are free to preserve that understanding of marriage in their laws,” said Byron Babione, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who filed the motion on behalf of Prince William County Clerk of Court Michéle McQuigg in defense of the MPA.
“In its Windsor decision, the Supreme Court declared that the states have the authority to define marriage for their community. If the High Court remains consistent with that principle, the states will ultimately be free to preserve man-woman marriage should they choose to do so. In the meantime, the 4th Circuit should put a hold on its decision to ensure an orderly and dignified resolution of this important constitutional question.”
Interestingly enough, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who has made it clear that he supports the Circuit Court’s ruling, has also asked for a stay, without which Virginia’s gay couples could head down the aisle as early as Aug. 18.
Similarly to Herring, North Carolina’s attorney general has announced he will not defend the state’s MPA, but Tar Heel voters who supported the amendment by 61 to 39 percent in 2012 are not without hope.
“There is no question that the 4th Circuit Court’s ruling puts our marriage amendment in jeopardy. There are four lawsuits pending against it, which Roy Cooper has said he will no longer defend,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“But as of now, the amendment continues to stand. Moreover, anticipating Cooper’s response, last year the Christian Action League worked with lawmakers to get legislation passed that allows the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate to intervene and defend our state’s resolve on marriage. I am confident that they will do this at the appropriate time.”
Dr. Creech pointed out that in the recently passed spending plan, the General Assembly cut $300,000 from the AG’s budget and created a new $300,000 litigation fund controlled by lawmakers for the purpose of defending the state’s Constitution.
“Perhaps this is the first signal of their intention to do just what they’ve prepared to do, stand behind the will of the people,” he added.
If the 4th Circuit grants the requests for a stay in the Bostic case, it would be, in a sense, following precedent already set by the High Court, which recently stayed a ruling involving Utah’s marriage laws. Similarly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit put its decision against Oklahoma’s marriage laws on hold, pending appeal to the Supreme Court, ADF pointed out in its arguments.
“There are a number of reasons that this ruling should be stayed — reasons that both defenders of marriage protection and same-sex marriage proponents can agree on — not the least of which is to avoid the legal morass that would result should same-sex couples take their vows and then the Supreme Court reverse the ruling,” said Dr. Creech. “If we’ve learned nothing else from attempts to implement gay marriage, we should have learned that lower court rulings can be overturned. Further, we need to remember that the 4th Circuit ruling was not even unanimous among a three-member panel. It’s the decision of two judges. A stay should be granted until the Supreme Court can hear the case.”