October 1, 2013
Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit this morning in West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking the right to marry in the state. The new challenge is being coordinated with a West Virginia LGBT rights group, Fairness West Virginia. Lambda Legal issued a press release:
Today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry, and the child of one of the couples. The case was filed on behalf of Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew, of St. Albans.
In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from Tinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.
As the Charleston Gazette notes in an article on the new challenge, the state is one of the least protective of LGBT rights:
West Virginia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states. Also, the state’s Human Rights Act doesn’t include sexual orientation as one of the protected categories from housing and employment discrimination. State lawmakers have rejected several recent attempts to include gays and lesbians in the state’s discrimination laws.
The complaint alleges the state’s marriage ban violates due process guarantees, and that it violates the equal protection of the laws on the basis of sexual orientation, sex, and parental status. The lawsuit also claims differential treatment of gays and lesbians with respect to the fundamental right to marry.
Lambda Legal has recently taken other actions in federal and state courts, fiiling a class-action marriage equality challenge in Virginia, a state which is facing several similar challenges, including one that was joined by Ted Olson and David Boies, who successfully fought California’s Prop 8. On Friday, judges in Illinois and New Jersey issued rulings in favor of same-sex couples after those states were sued on behalf of the LGBT legal organization.
The West Virgina case is titled McGee v. Cole.
Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing