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Ruling allows same-sex marriages in Va. starting August 20; another delay likely

RICHMOND, Va. — Same-sex couples in Virginia will be allowed to get married starting August 20 after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied a request to delay implementation of an earlier ruling that struck down Virginia law that  denied marriage to same-sex couple, Michael Kelly, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, confirmed.

The split-decision ruling (one for, two against the stay) would also mean the marriages of same-sex couples who got married in other states would be recognized in Virginia.

The U.S. Supreme Court could still intervene in this case, thus delaying the day when which same-sex couple can get married.

“Because the 4th Circuit’s order does not take effect until at least August 20, clerks cannot yet issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Attorney General Mark Herring (D – Virginia) said in a statement. “It’s also possible that the Supreme Court could issue its own stay, as it has done in similar cases, especially since the Prince William County Clerk is requesting a stay.”

ACLU of Virginia executive director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said she hoped the Supreme Court would leave the ruling in place.

“Our clients have already waited far too long to exercise their constitutional right to marry, or to have their marriages from other states recognized,” she said.

The Family Foundation, an organization opposed to same-sex marriage, expressed disappointment over the court’s decision.

“It’s shocking that the Fourth Circuit has introduced chaos to Virginia where other appellate courts have recognized that the final decision will likely be made by the Supreme Court,” Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, said in a statement. “This decision suggests an arrogance by these judges that is simply appalling.”

She added she looked forward to the Supreme Court’s review of the decision.

With a potential Supreme Court decision ruling, Equality Virginia executive director James Parrish remained hopeful.

“There is no doubt that Virginia is ready for the freedom to marry,” Parrish said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the 4th Circuit denied the request for a stay and hope that we will see wedding celebrations in Virginia as early as next week.”

This is a developing story.

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