The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to issue an indefinite stay on its ruling against Virginia’s marriage equality ban, potentially opening the door for same-sex weddings to begin on August 20.
On July 28, the a three-judge panel in the court declared that the ban is unconstitutional. It was the first such victory in a Southern state, but the ruling was then put on hold for twenty-one days pending requests for a stay or a rehearing.
The panel was asked to extend the stay until the end of the appeals process, but after a 2 to 1 vote on August 13, they decided to decline the request.
Both the state’s governor and attorney general have refused to defend the law in court, but Norfolk circuit clerk George Schaefer III and Prince William circuit clerk Michele McQuigg have chosen to fight for the 2006 ban.
The defenders of the ban can still request a stay from the Supreme Court. If they elect to go that route, the request would be made to Chief Justice John Roberts, who deals with applications regarding the 4th Circuit Court. Roberts would then have the option of referring the request to the entire court, or making a decision himself.
In cases regarding other states’ challenges to equality bans, rulings against said bans have been stayed during the appeals process. However, if no further action is taken, the 4th Circuit must issue a mandate cementing its original decision on August 20, seven days after it issued the stay denial. At that point, same-sex couples would be granted the right to marry.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is against the ban, but his office supported a county clerk’s request that the 4th Circuit Court issue an indefinite stay.
Herring himself, along with a number of others, filed a petition with the Supreme Court on August 8, asking that the court review the case in order to provide a resolution at the national level.
Their full request can be read here.