The “freedom to marry has
long been recognized as one of the vital
personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967). In more than a dozen cases over the last century, theSupreme Court has reaffirmed that marria
ge is “the most important relation in life,”
Zablocki v. Redhail
, 434 U.S. 374, 384 (1978), and that the right to marry is “one of theliberties protected by the Due Process Clause.”
Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. LaFleur
, 414U.S. 632, 639 (1974). As a resul
t, “[c]hoices about marriage” are “sheltered by theFourteenth Amendment against the State’s unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or disrespect.”
M.L.B. v. S.L.J
., 519 U.S. 102, 116 (1996) (internal quotation marksomitted).2.
Despite the “fundamental importance” of marriage “for all individuals,”
, 434 U.S. at 384, the Commonwealth of Virginia has imposed sweepingrestrictions that prevent gay and lesbian individuals not only from marrying, but from participating in
of the “rights, benefits, obl
igations, qualities, or effec
ts of marriage.”
Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A;
Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3.
Virginia’s Constitution provides that “only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in
or recognized by this Commonwealt
h and its political subdivisions.” Va. Const., Art. I,
§ 15-A. And
Virginia’s statutory code
a “marriage between persons of thesame sex is prohibited” in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Va. Code § 20-45.2. Virginialaw even prohibits same-sex couples from entering into second-class institutions like civilunions or domestic partnerships. Va. Code § 20-45.3.
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