Frequently Asked Questions About Our Freedom to Marry Lawsuit in Virginia

By Rebecca Glenburg, ACLU of Virginia Legal Director

Blog-SameSexMarriage-VA-223x223-V01On August 1, 2013, the ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU National LGBT Project, and Lambda Legal filed suit against in federal court in Harrisonburg against Virginia Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey and Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas Roberts.  The named plaintiffs are Joanne Harris and Jessie Duff, who live in Staunton and would like to marry, and Victoria Kidd and Christy Berghoff, who live in Winchester and were lawfully married in Washington, D.C. 

On January 31, 2014, the judge certified the case as a class action.

Q.     What are you asking the court to do?

A.        We are asking the court to declare that Virginia’s so-called Marriage Amendment, and all other Virginia laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying, or prohibit the recognition of marriages from out of state, are unconstitutional.  We are asking the court to order the defendants to stop all enforcement of those laws, to begin issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples, and to apply all Virginia laws pertaining to marriage equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Q.     Why did you ask for class action status?

A.        Virginia’s discriminatory marriage laws affect thousands of couples across the state in countless different ways.  We want to make sure our lawsuit benefits everyone who has been or will be hurt by these laws.

Q.     What does class action status mean?

A.        Now that the case has been certified as a class action, all members of the class are plaintiffs in the case, and any ruling the judge issues will apply to all of the class members.

Q.     Who is in the class?

A.        The class includes:  (1) all same-sex couples in Virginia who have not married in another jurisdiction; and (2) all same-sex couples in Virginia who have married in another jurisdiction.

 Q.     Do I have to do anything to join the class?

A.        If you are part of a same-sex couple in Virginia, you are automatically part of the class and do not have to do anything else.

Q.     How can I keep up-to-date with what is happening with the case?

A.       Continue to follow our blog, and check out our Facebook and Twitter for breaking news!  And, sign up to be a grassroots advocate.