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West Virginia Marriage Challenge Likely To Move Forward

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2014

A lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Huntington, West Virginia appears likely to move forward, according to this report from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 1, argues county clerks in Kanawha and Cabell counties violated the 14th Amendment rights of three same-sex couples to due process and equal protection in denying their request for a marriage license. The clerks contend their staffs simply followed state law.

( U.S. District Judge Robert C.) Chambers announced Monday his inclination to deny the clerks’ motions to dismiss. Their arguments contend a judicial ruling would interfere with the legislative process.

The lawsuit also seeks to compel the state to recognize marriages from out of state. But because none of the plaintiffs are married, Judge Chambers warned that they lack standing to challenge West Virginia’s marriage law banning recognition of same-sex marriages from out of state.

Chambers’s ruling remains unofficial until a written ruling is released, which may take a couple of weeks. He will then establish deadlines for both sides to file briefs and counter-briefs. Both sides have already agreed that a full trial will not be necessary.

West Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is statutory only. Attempts to pass a constitutional amendment have stalled in the state legislature.

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