Freedom to marry legalized in West Virginia
By: Hannah Johnson
October 9, Supreme Court order in the Fourth Circuit legalized gay marriage in five states, causing the legalization in West Virginia. West Virginia is the twenty-ninth state to legalize same sex marriage, followed after the legalization in Wisconsin on October 6, 2014.
Legalization in West Virginia is important due to three court cases filed by Lambda Legal, a representative law firm, claiming that the ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. In one case, McGlee v. Cole, the couple were married for 16 years in another state but once they resided in West Virginia their marriage was no longer valid, which can cause conflicting issues with the Constitution under “full faith and credit”. Full faith and credit clause-Article IV, Section I in the Constitution, identifies that all states must recognize legislative acts, judicial decisions, and public records of other states. Ripley High School history teacher Steve Sayre gives his opinion about gay marriage in accordance to the Constitution saying that, “In the Constitution same sex marriages should be recognized by all states when one state issues these licenses. Whether a person agrees with this or not, the laws to allow same sex marriage should be constitutionally legal.” However, the same sex married couple in McGlee v. Cole and their child no longer gained the benefits they received in the previous state because West Virginia did not recognize same sex marriage.
West Virginia’s attorney general and governor agreed to put an end to defending the state’s anti-marriage ban and ultimately brought an end to the ban on same-sex marriages and ended three pending court cases.
To some, this is an upset, but to others it is a move further to equal opportunity. Emma Barnette states, “Gay people should have the right to get married, just like everyone else.” Same sex couples that do marry are required to complete the same marriage certificate as a heterosexual marriage. Being married, each spouse will receive the benefits of a married couple, including being acknowledged by the state of West Virginia.
Marriages can still be performed by a minister if the minister wishes to conduct the marriage. However, ministers can also decline to perform the ceremony. Same sex couples can also get married at a local court house and still be legal because marriages do not have to be recognized by the church.
States are moving toward the ideals outlined in the Constitution by legalizing gay marriage. This leads the government into purposing a Constitutional Amendment protecting the rights of same sex married couples; first, by making it a state law to allow same sex marriages. However, as of right now, the amendment is pending. Because the amendment is still currently pending, groups such as Fairness in West Virginia and Lambda Legal continue to fight for equality not only in West Virginia, but in all states.