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Virginia Gay Couples Ask U.S. Court to End Marriage Ban

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that limited federal recognition of marriage to relationships involving one man and one woman, state laws banning same-sex marriage rights have been challenged in Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Photographer: Timothy Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that limited federal recognition of marriage to relationships involving one man and one woman, state laws banning same-sex marriage rights have been challenged in Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Photographer: Timothy Clary/AFP via Getty Images

(Corrects New Mexico same-sex marriage status in fifth paragraph of story published yesterday.)

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Virginia same-sex couples sued state officials seeking to overturn a ban on gay marriage, claiming the restriction is discriminatory and tramples on their constitutional rights.

Two lesbian couples, in a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Harrisonburg, Virginia, argue the state’s refusal to allow them to marry or to recognize same-sex marriages from other states violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment.

Same-sex marriage bans under Virginia’s Constitution and laws “send a purposeful message that they view lesbians, gay men and their children as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage,” according to the complaint, which seeks to represent all same-sex couples in the state.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that limited federal recognition of marriage to relationships involving one man and one woman, a lawsuit has been filed challenging a Pennsylvania law banning same-sex marriage rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union last month asked New Mexico’s Supreme Court to recognize that right in a state that does not expressly sanction or ban the practice.

Gay marriage advocates, who filed two cases in Chicago last year, asked an Illinois judge to find that state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling for support. A 2011 New Jersey lawsuit also seeks same-sex marriage recognition, contending that state’s civil union law is inadequate.

The case is Harris v. McDonnell, 13-cv-00077, U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia (Harrisonburg).

To contact the reporters on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net; Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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