On July 18, 2013, two Virginia residents filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the state of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief barring enforcement of Va. Code §§ 25-45.2 and 20-45.4 and Article I, § 15-A of the Virginia Constitution, alleging that these provisions are unconstitutional. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that these Virginia laws and constitutional provisions denying individuals the opportunity to marry a person of their same sex violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
On August 9, 2013, the state moved to dismiss the case on grounds of sovereign immunity. On September 3, 2013 plaintiffs amended their complaint to add two additional plaintiffs and two additional defendants to the lawsuit. The newly added plaintiffs were Virginia residents married under the laws of California who sought recognition of their marriage under Virginia law. The additional defendants included the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the City or Norfolk and the State Registrar of Vital Records.
On January 23, 2014, Defendant Rainey, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, submitted a formal change in position, and relinquished her prior defense of Virginia's marriage laws. The Prince William County Clerk, Michele McQuigg, was granted defendant intervenor status and continued to defend the marriage ban.
The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction, and both sides sought summary judgment; a hearing was held on February 4. On February 13, 2014, 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. The court held that these laws violate both due process and equal protection. However, Judge Allen stayed execution of this injunction pending the final disposition of any appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On July 28, 2014 the Fourth Circuit affirmed, agreeing with the district court that the same-sex marriage ban violated the constitution. The majority opinion, by Circuit Judge Henry Floyd, found that the ban impermissibly infringes Virginians' fundamental right to marry. A dissent by Judge Paul Niemeyer disagreed; Judge Niemeyer said that the state had a right to define marriage to cover only relationships between one man and one woman.
Under the ordinary rules governing appeals, judgments do not take effect until the mandate issues, and that happens 7 days after expiration of the time to file a petition for rehearing, or 7 days after entry of an order denying a timely petition for panel rehearing, rehearing en banc, or motion for stay of mandate, whichever is later. In this case, the mandate was scheduled to issue August 21, 2014. However, on August 20, the Supreme Court granted a stay of the Court of Appeals mandate, "pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari." Carlyn Williams - 11/04/2013