University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name McGee v. Cole PB-WV-0002
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-24068 ( S.D. W. Va. )
State/Territory West Virginia
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On October 1, 2013, three same-sex couples and the minor child of one of the couples filed a lawsuit against Kanawha County, West Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, asked the court to ... read more >
On October 1, 2013, three same-sex couples and the minor child of one of the couples filed a lawsuit against Kanawha County, West Virginia in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, asked the court to declare unconstitutional any West Virginia laws banning same-sex marriage, to enjoin West Virginia from refusing to recognize same-sex marriages undertaken in other states, and to award the plaintiffs reasonable attorney's fees and costs of suit.

The plaintiffs claimed that their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution were violated. They further asserted that the ban on same-sex marriage discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, sex, and parental status. The plaintiffs also alleged that they were being denied a multitude of other social and legal rights that marriage provides.

On December 2, 2013, the Court (Judge Robert C. Chambers) granted the State of West Virginia's Motion to intervene as a defendant. On January 29, 2014, The District Court (Robert C. Chambers, Chief Judge) held that: the Court would consider the case law, but not legal argument, contained in untimely notice of supplemental authority filed by plaintiffs; the action did not present difficult questions of state law, therefore the case would remain in federal court; the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge constitutionality of the non-recognition statute, however, the plaintiffs were allowed to challenge the other parts the West Virginia marriage ban. 993 F. Supp .2d 639.

The Court stayed the case on June 10, 2014, pending the outcome of Bostic v. Schafer, a Fourth Circuit case that had a substantial overlap in issues with McGee v. Cole. The holding in Bostic, that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, controlled this case.

On November 7, 2014, the Court, in keeping with Bostic, applied strict scrutiny to the marriage ban and found that it was not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest, and decided in favor of the plaintiffs. It issued an opinion and order that granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, while denying the State of West Virginia's motion to dismiss. In the order, the Court disagreed that there would be uniformity problems regarding the enforcement of the marriage ban across the counties of West Virginia. While the defendants claimed that the decision would only ban the named clerks from denying same-sex couples marriage licenses, the Court found that would not be the case. The Court further held that the marriage ban was not a narrowly-tailored state interest and that it violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Laws under the Fourteenth Amendment. The case ended on November 7, 2014.

On July 16, 2015, Judge Chambers awarded the plaintiffs $92,125 in attorneys’ fees, including paralegal fees, and $7,679.64 in costs and expenses. The case is now closed.

Megan Dolan - 02/16/2015
Claire Lally - 03/15/2015
Mary Kate Sickel - 03/25/2018


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Family discrimination
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Adoption
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Cabell County Clerk
Kanawha County Clerk
Plaintiff Description Three lesbian and gay couples, one with a child, who are residents of West Virginia.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
3:13-cv-24068 (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 8]
PB-WV-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 56] (993 F.Supp.2d 639) (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/29/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 125] (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 139] (66 F.Supp.3d 747) (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/07/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 162] (115 F.Supp.3d 765) (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chambers, Robert Charles (S.D. W. Va.)
PB-WV-0002-0002 | PB-WV-0002-0003 | PB-WV-0002-0004 | PB-WV-0002-0005 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Harrison, Lindsay C (District of Columbia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Kittredge, Heather Foster (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Leowy, Karen L. (New York)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Littrell, Elizabeth Lynn (Georgia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
McCotter, R. Trent (District of Columbia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Platzer, Luke C. (District of Columbia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Taylor, Camilla B. (Illinois)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Tinney, John H. Jr. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-0001 | PB-WV-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bailey, Charles R. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Blake, Julie Marie (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Hall, Lee Murray (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Lin, Elbert (District of Columbia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Taylor, Michael W. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Walling, Sarah A. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Warren, Julie A. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Dys, Jeremiah G. (West Virginia)
PB-WV-0002-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -