INTERVIEW: Plaintiffs suing Virginia over gay marriage ban
RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) — Victoria Kidd and Christy Berghoof, along with their daughter Lidia, went public for the first time Thursday.
In a press conference in Richmond, Kidd and Berghoof explained why they chose to be plaintiffs in a federal class action lawsuit against Virginia’s gay marriage ban.
Kidd and Berghoof have been a lesbian couple for more than nine years. They live in Winchester with their eight month old daughter Lidia.
While their marriage is recognized in Washington D.C., it remains unrecognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Virginia has had a gay marriage ban in its Constitution since 2006.
“In the state of Virginia you know, I have no protection,” Berghoff said.
Berghoff and Kidd are not alone in their endeavor to overturn the controversial amendment.
Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff, another lesbian couple from Stanton, VA, are stated as plaintiffs as well.
The Virginia ACLU, Lambda Legal, as well a DC law firm are backing the effort.
“This little girl is just my heart,” Kidd said.
“The law doesn’t recognize my relationship with Christy,” Kidd added.
The suit names Governor Bob McDonnell as the defendant in the case along with several of Virginia’s top office holders.
CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George asked the governor if the Republican Party is on the wrong side of history with its stance on gay marriage.
“I think it reflects a traditional view of marriage,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell noted that it wasn’t just lawmakers that created the marriage ban in 2006, a majority of 57% voted for the amendment at the ballotbox.
“At this point the people have directly expressed their will in Virginia,” McDonnell added.
But Kidd and Berghoof insist that times are changing in Virginia.
“It is important to me to be recognized as her parent,” Kidd said.
Lawyers for Kidd and Berghoof told CBS 6 why they decided to file the lawsuit in Harrisonburg, VA Federal Court and not in a more populate urban city.
“We filed in Harisonburg to highlight the need that the freedom to marry is not just an urban issue,” Atty. Amanda Goad of the ACLU said.
Lamda lawyer Greg Nevins said that while this is a historic day, the legal fight will take many years.
“We do recognize this is a long hall, you mentioned 2-3 years maybe 4 years,” Nevins said.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told CBS 6 that their office does not comment on pending litigation but refereed us to a previous statement by the AG.
“Virginia has followed the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for more than 400 years, and Virginians voted overwhelmingly to add this traditional definition to their constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision in California’s Proposition 8 case could have had implications for all states with marriage laws similar to California’s. As the attorney general’s legal duty is to vigorously defend Virginia’s laws when they are challenged, he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in conjunction with several other states in the California case and used every available legal argument to defend Virginia’s Constitution and preserve the will of the citizens of the commonwealth.
“Today, the court’s two decisions on marriage make clear that the rulings have no effect on the Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage.
“Consistent with the duties of the attorney general, this office will continue to defend challenges to the constitution and the laws of Virginia.”
The ACLU indicated an interest in having more gay Virginia couples come forward as a part of their class action suit.
To do so, a survey is on their website: https://www.aclu.org/secure/lgbt-same-sex-couples-survey