The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals struck down Virginia's ban on gay marriage in a 2-1 ruling on Monday afternoon.
From their ruling:
We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.
The appeals court ruling upholds a February ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, who had stayed her ruling pending today's action.
Attorney General Mark Herring's office says the ruling won't go into effect for at least 21 days "because of the rules of the federal judiciary."
The dissenting judge in the three judge appellate panel, Paul V. Niemeyer, wrote that he preferred to defer to "Virginia’s political choice in defining marriage as only between one man and one woman."