Virginia Attorney Files Brief Saying Courts Didn't Have Right to Allow Same-Sex Unions

In the first brief filed after a Virginia judge ruled the state's same-sex marriage ban, one attorney argues that'll lead to marriages between close relatives.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

March 30 2014 12:38 PM ET

Pro-marriage equality supporters rallied outside the federal courthouse in Norfolk, Va., on February 4. 

David B. Oakley, an attorney for Virginia court clerks in Norfolk and Prince William County, argued Friday that the federal judge who declared Virginia's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional didn't have the authority to decide whether same-sex unions should be allowed, according to Larry O'Dell of the Associated Press.

O'Dell reports that Oakley also argued that if Virginia allows same-sex unions, "it will not be long before other groups come knocking," including unions between close relatives. "For example, if the definition of marriage is no longer based on procreation and the ability to procreate naturally, then what is the purpose in prohibiting marriage between persons of close kinship?"

He said that the Supreme Court precedent overrides states' rights, arguing that "States have the right to define marriage, and if they choose to allow same-sex marriage or other non-traditional marriage, they are free to do so. However, the states cannot be compelled to alter the idea of marriage to include same-sex couples."

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen has put last month's decision on hold while it is appealed, "which means same-sex couples in Virginia remain unable to marry until the case is ultimately resolved," says O'Dell.

Virginia joins 17 other states and jurisdictions that now allow same-sex marriage and the state's Attorney General Mark Herring has refused to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban, agreeing with the courts that it is unconstitutional.

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