Defendants: Gay-marriage ruling could allow other unions

By Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 29--Defendants in a trailblazing gay marriage case filed papers Friday with a federal appeals court asserting that overturning Virginia's same-sex marriage ban could open the door to other types of marital unions -- between two brothers, for example.

The filings were the first in a series of pleadings before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the wake of U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen's decision last month striking down the state's constitutional amendment that limits marriage to unions between a man and a woman.

Wright Allen delayed implementation of her decision pending the outcome of the appeal.

Attorneys for Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, one of the defendants in the case, argued Friday that Wright Allen's decision could have unintended consequences.

"Same-sex marriage proponents want to open the door of marriage for their benefit and then slam it shut behind them. But, it will not be long before other groups come knocking," Schaefer's attorneys, David Oakley and Jeffrey Brooke of Chesapeake, wrote.

"For example, if the definition of marriage is no longer based on procreation or the ability to procreate naturally, then what is the purpose in prohibiting marriage between persons of close kinship? Would it then be unconstitutional for two brothers who are confirmed bachelors and live together to marry so that they could reown property as tenants by the entireties, file joint tax returns, qualify for health benefits, and obtain better insurance rates?"

Tim Bostic and Tony London, a Norfolk couple, sued Schaefer when his office refused to issue them a marriage license last year. Two additional plaintiffs, Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County, joined the case later, seeking to have their 2008 marriage in California recognized by Virginia.

Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg joined the case on the defendants' side, seeking to have the state's gay marriage ban upheld. She is represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national Christian legal ministry.

Redefining marriage in Virginia conveys the message that "the Commonwealth is indifferent to whether children are raised by both their mother and father," McQuigg's attorneys wrote.

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"As the law and the Commonwealth convey these messages, it is likely that, over time, fewer man-woman couples having or raising children will marry, that marriages will become less durable, and that fewer children will be raised in stable homes headed by their married mother and father.

"Some people, for example, might determine that their relationship will be enhanced by sexual openness, that their emotional attachment runs between and among a few partners at the same time, or that their marriage is no longer fulfilling because attraction has waned."

The Richmond-based appeals court will hear oral arguments in the case in May.

Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276,

[email protected]


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