A third gay couple has joined a petition asking the West Virginia state supreme court to force the Kanawha County clerk's office to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Pat Link and Sheila Chambers of Kanawha County filed the petition earlier this month after county clerk Alma King told their lawyer she would not issue a license to them because state law describes marriage as a union between a woman and a man. The court approved the addition of the third gay couple, J. Wade Davis and Jamie A. Bailey, to the petition on Thursday. The Appalachian Metropolitan Community Church of Charleston also has petitioned the court to intervene in the case, but the court has not ruled on
that petition. The court is scheduled to decide April 1 whether to hear the underlying case.
Same-sex marriages became a national issue last November when Massachusetts's highest court ruled that gay couples are entitled to all the rights of marriage. Fourteen states are seeking this year to amend their constitutions to ban same-sex marriages, and three have already amended their constitutions to define marriage as between a man and a woman, with a fourth--Hawaii--leaving the constitutional definition of marriage to the discretion of the legislature. States in recent years have already acted broadly in opposition to the prospect of same-sex marriages, passing so-called defense of marriage laws in 39 states. West Virginia lawmakers did not discuss the issue this session.