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Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. If you have a subscription, please Log In. Your current subscription does not provide access to this content. If you believe you've gotten this message in error, please Log In. Click isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists. Same-sex couples and civil rights advocates celebrated a historic victory Thursday after West Virginia government officials said they no longer would fight efforts to allow couples of the same gender to marry in the state.
Shortly after 1 p. Earl Ray Tomblin said he would direct state agencies to follow the law as interpreted by the U. Supreme Court, which recently refused to hear appeals of several challenges to marriage bans in other states. A few hours later, clerks in some counties were giving marriage s to gay and lesbian couples.
Allison Adler, communications director for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, said new marriage s would be ready by Tuesday, at the latest, but same-sex couples could get s using the old forms Thursday. State Registrar Gary Thompson notified county clerks around 4 p. Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton, a couple from St. Albans who were one of the three same-sex couples to sue over the same-sex marriage ban, went to the Kanawha County Courthouse to get their marriage Thursday afternoon.
They have been together since and have wanted to get married since other states started legalizing same-sex marriage. County clerks around the state reacted differently to the mandate. Sorsaia said late Thursday that, because the attorney general has given up defending the ban, he predicts Putnam County will begin issuing s to gay couples Friday.
If that recourse involves a lawsuit, he said, the decision to spend money on it will be up to the County Commission. A Randolph County courts employee said that county was issuing a marriage to a same-sex couple when a reporter called Thursday afternoon. Morrisey and Tomblin pointed to the U. Supreme Court in explaining their statements Thursday. On Monday, the Supreme Court let stand a ruling against the same-sex marriage ban in Virginia. District Judge Robert C. Allen Whitt, president of the socially conservative Family Policy Council of West Virginia, pinned his hopes on state bans in the 5th and 6th circuits, which he said could still be taken up by the Supreme Court.
He said he hopes to see an eventual amendment to the U. Constitution banning same-sex marriage. West Virginia lawmakers specifically banned same-sex marriage in when they passed a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and with only three dissenting votes in the House of Delegates.
The three couples sued McCormick and Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, alleging that, by complying with state law and refusing to issue them marriage s, the clerks were unfairly discriminating against same-sex couples, in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U. However, McCormick said Thursday evening that the lawsuit is dead. Littrell said she is especially proud of the historic victory, because it happened in her home state of West Virginia.
Reach Erin Beck at erin. Thank you for reading! Purchase a Subscription. Thank you for Reading! Log In. We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content. Edit Close. Toggle Menu. Don't have an ? Up Today. Learn more about HD Media. They said marriage encourages others to recognize their relationship as valid. Staff writers David Gutman and Ryan Quinn contributed to this report.
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