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Hundreds rally outside, as same-sex marriage debated inside Virginia courtroom

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - While a three-judge panel heard oral arguments Tuesday which could decide whether or not same-sex marriage is allowed in Virginia, hundreds of people attended dueling rallies outside the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in downtown Richmond.

The rallies were held mainly on opposite sides of the street.

On one side, people who believe marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman. On the other, people who believe same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.

Inside the courtroom - Judge Paul V. Niemeyer, Judge Roger L. Gregory, and Judge Henry F. Floyd heard arguments from lawyers on both sides of the issue.

It was an exchange full of interruptions - with lawyers being interrupted more than 40 times during the course of the one hour plus hearing. [Click here to listen to an audio recording of today's court hearing]

Neimeyer, according to CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George who was there, was by far the most combative when it came to lawyers for marriage equality.

Neimeyer, a George H.W. Bush appointee, questioned the rationale of attorney Ted Olson over whether marriage equality could lead to "fathers marrying their daughters."

"I'm not aware of any person created without a man and a woman," he added.

Gregory, according to St. George, was by far the most combative when it came to lawyers for traditional marriage.

Gregory questioned why prisoners could marry, but not gay people.

Gregory also said it was wrong for Virginia to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to be effective parents - saying it "rips" a bond from forming.

Olson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George after court "you always expect questions from judges."

Olson said he had no idea when a ruling could be issued by the court.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who earlier this year said he would refuse to defend Virginia's law that prevented same-sex marriage, said today he believed the court would ultimately rule Virginia's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

"Nothing that was said in the courtroom today alters the basic incompatibility of this discriminatory ban with the protections guaranteed by the Constitution," Herring (D - Virginia) said following the hearing. "Every single federal court that has considered the question since last summer's 'Windsor decision has reached the same conclusion."

Earlier this year a federal judge declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. That ruling was stayed pending the outcome of today's hearing.

Olson, who is fighting the same-sex marriage ban, argued it is a matter of status. He said to deny marriage to same-sex couple is a violation a fundamental right to marry.

The lawyers who argued to favor of Virginia law said marriage has been defined as a relationship between a man and a woman for hundreds of years and that there is no legal ground for change.

"The Constitution has always protected the right to enter into the union of husband and wife, it has not done anything beyond that,"
attorney Austin Nimocks said. "We recognize that every child has a mom and a dad and every child deserves as much as possible to know, be loved and be raised by the mother and father that brought them into this world."

The judges who heard Tuesday's argument hinted several times this case was likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


  • realrecognizereal

    I LOVE how couples have to fight for the right to be married in VA but you can kill an unborn child here as long as you have enough money to pay a doctor to do it!!! Yea VA…. Stop people in love from getting married but keep on killing babies!!!!!

  • John

    I like how the priest in the picture is wearing a rainbow smock. As a priest how do you pick and choose what parts of gods word you want to preach on. I think the Bible is very clear about where it stands in homosexuality.

    • Wallace

      John, the Bible is also pretty clear on eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics, disobedient children, women going into a place of worship when it’s “that time of the month”, etc.., I like how certain Christians cherry pick which parts of the Bible suit them too. Just sayin’

  • Adam West Chappell

    Oh bible thumpers. Have fun standing on the wrong side of history. I’ll bet your parents or grandparents were the same ones carrying the “race mixing is communism” signs too. Your logic is flawed too, btw.

  • John

    Wally I dont know what version of the Bible you are reading but none of that stuff is in the King James version.

    • Lee

      King James Version Deuteronomy 21:18-21:

      18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

      19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

      20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

      21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

      So you want to tell us when you are planning on stoning disobedient children so we can protect them from you.

  • John

    Plus its not fair to kids growing up without a mom and dad. I mean let’s be honest here how good of a parent is two guys or two girls you need a mother and a father for a healthy family relationship.

    • Adam West Chappell

      Really? A healthy relationship? Don’t most mothers and fathers get divorced nowadays anyway? If you REALLY want to protect the integrity of a family, try and stop the ever-increasing divorce rate in this country. You’re just scared of what you can’t understand. But it’s ok. You people are dying out, and God (mind the pun) its a good thing.

      • B Addy

        Don’t understand??? It is clearly understood. Religion has nothing to do with the fact that it is a mental illness. Perversion is a sickness and as many time as you say to yourself it is normal, no it is not. You can call people bigots or any name you want. It is obvious it is not the normal natural mindset. If it were a product manufactured in a factory there would be a recall for faulty wiring.

  • Joe

    But seriously, they’re not trying to marry me, so no big deal. It doesn’t effect me. If it did, then I’d be bothered.

  • John

    Leviticus says shellfish is unclean. It does not say you will be stoned for eating it. But since were on Leviticus what does it say about homosexuality.

    • Ricky

      The Bible also clearly states we should do the same thing to adulterers, divorcees, children who back talk their parents, women who aren’t virgins at marriage, people who preach about/practice other religions, blasphemers, and people who work on the Sabbath. So why only pick on gays?

  • Hannah

    Well, this is a deplorably written article. Not quite sure who is arguing what in this case.

    I don’t know why this is still an issue. Marriage is a right. A RIGHT. You get to do it because you’re a citizen. Preventing homosexuals from marrying is actually taking away their rights. They already had the right. People are trying to take it away. How about no. You don’t get to take away people’s rights.

    For the record (not that it should be part of the discussion since, as I just said, everyone already has the right to marry), there have been MULTIPLE studies that show that children raised in a home with loving parents develop well, regardless of the gender of their parents. Saying “children need a mother and a father” not only says you’re choosing to ignore those studies, it also says that single parents should not be allowed to have children. So great logic there.

    As a Christian, I can tell you that we ALL (no exceptions – EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN) “cherry-pick” which parts of the Bible we’re going to live by. All of us. We all do it. Everyone. Because it’s not possible to live by everything in the Bible in today’s world. And I choose to follow Jesus’s teachings, in which he commanded us to love everyone. Loving someone is NOT taking away their rights.

    And, basically, it doesn’t affect you if two people who love each other get married. I don’t care if you think it’s gross. It doesn’t affect you in any way. So grow up and get over it and leave people alone.

      • Sam S

        There is absolutely no way that you are a Christian in any sense. Are you joking? You will not be laughing later.

  • Keith Pullman

    There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality “just for some” is not equality. Let’s stand up for EVERY ADULT’S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!

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