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Case Name Harris v. McDonnell PB-VA-0004
Docket / Court 5:13-cv-00077-MFU-RSB ( W.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On August 1, 2013, two same-sex couples filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia against the state of Virginia, under 42 U.S. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The plaintiffs, represented by the national ACLU, the ACLU of Virginia, Lambda Legal and ... read more >
On August 1, 2013, two same-sex couples filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia against the state of Virginia, under 42 U.S. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The plaintiffs, represented by the national ACLU, the ACLU of Virginia, Lambda Legal and private counsel, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the state's refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry or to recognize same-sex couples married in other states violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The suit was filed just more than a month after the Supreme Court's decision in Perry v. Hollingsworth.

On August 16, 2013, the plaintiffs moved for class certification of same-sex couples under F.R.C.P. 23(b)(2). On the same day, the Governor of Virginia moved to dismiss the case on grounds of sovereign immunity. On August 30, 2013, defendant Thomas Roberts moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. The court (Judge Michael F. Urbanski) held a motion hearing on October 29, 2013 on these matters and is expected to render an opinion in the near future.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment on September 30, 2013. On October 3, 2013 the State defendants filed a motion to stay the proceedings until an earlier case involving the same issues, Bostic v. Rainey, resolved cross-motions for summary judgment. In an opinion dated October 18, 2013, Judge Urbanski denied defendants' motion to stay the proceedings, but allowed the defendants additional time to file their summary judgment response; defendants filed that response on November 7, 2013.

On Jan. 31, 2014, Judge Urbanski certified this suit as a class action, with two classes: (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.

While this case proceeded towards its own resolution, on February 13, 2014, in the Bostic case, the District Court (Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen) granted summary judgment and a preliminary injunction for the plaintiff, and entered an order enjoining Virginia from continuing to enforce the marriage ban. In addition, defendant defendant M. Rainey, the State Registrar of Vital Records, shifted position in this case (as in Bostic). She had originally argued that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was constitutional. But in January Virginia's Attorney General decided not to defend the ban. The other defendant here, the Clerk of the Staunton Circuit Court, likewise changed his position, which had been in support of the laws--he then declined to take a position on their constitutionality.

The Bostic case proceeded towards resolution in the appellate court, on an expedited briefing schedule. On March 10, 2014, the Fourth Circuit allowed these plaintiffs to intervene on the side of the plaintiffs-appellees and file their own briefs in Bostic, set to be heard in May 2014. Accordingly, in this case, Judge Urbanski ruled on March 31 to stay continuing proceedings.

Jonathan Forman - 08/03/2013
Carlyn Williams - 11/18/2013
- 04/01/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Virginia
Plaintiff Description Two same-sex couples in Virginia, and the classes of (1) all same-sex couples in Virginia who have not married in another jurisdiction; (2) all same-sex couples in Virginia who have married in another jurisdiction.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Lambda Legal
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-VA-0005 : Bostic v. McDonnell (E.D. Va.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:13−cv−00077 (W.D. Va.) 02/18/2015
PB-VA-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 08/01/2013
PB-VA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source:
Memorandum Opinion 01/31/2014 (W.D. Va.)
PB-VA-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Stay] 03/31/2014 (2014 WL 1292803) (E.D. Va.)
PB-VA-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Urbanski, Michael Francis (W.D. Va.) [Magistrate]
PB-VA-0004-0002 | PB-VA-0004-0003 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Block, Joshua A (New York)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Borelli, Tara Lynn (California)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Esseks, James Dixon (New York)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Gaber, Mark P. (District of Columbia)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Glenberg, Rebecca (Virginia)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Goad, Amanda C. (New York)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Nevins, Gregory R. (Georgia)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Platzer, Luke C. (District of Columbia)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)
PB-VA-0004-0001 | PB-VA-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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