Plaintiffs in Virginia same-sex marriage case celebrate victory

Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 23:42:23-05

Norfolk, Va. (WTKR) - The plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey, questioning Virginia's same-sex marriage ban, celebrated what they called a historic victory on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that Virginia's ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.

Tony London and Tim Bostic are the Norfolk couple who sued after being denied a marriage license.

"It was about the two of us getting married and this is all that it’s about and we want to be legally married in our state," London told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo.

"This is not an issue about sexual orientation – it’s an issue about fairness and I think the number of straight allies we’ve had helps illustrate that," Bostic said.

They were joined in the case by Chesterfield couple Mary Townley and Carol Schall.

Together for 29 years, the couple was married in California, but wants their marriage recognized in Virginia, especially for the benefit of their 16-year-old daughter Emily.

"There’s always that stigma that’s attached to families across Virginia and it’s an unjust stigma, we are a regular family, we do everything just like every other family," Townley told Corillo.

Carol Schall says they had been home watching television Thursday night when they received a phone call from American Foundation for Equal Rights Executive Director Adam Umhoefer.

"It’s snowing in Richmond we are just doing our thing, staying warm and my cell phone rings and I saw it was an LA number and I knew immediately it was something," Schall explained.

Umhoefer calls the ruling historic and hopes it will bring hope to gay and lesbian youth across the Commonwealth.

"A win in Virginia is important because it’s the first win in the South and I think that sends a message," he said. "I think the court sending a message like this gives them hope and makes them believe that equality is going to be a reality for them sometime soon."

Despite the celebratory mood Friday, all the plaintiffs recognize that their fight is far from over.

"We fully expect our opponents will appeal this ruling to the 4th circuit and we’ll fight that battle," Umhoefer stated.

"We were ready – we got into this understanding it was a long process and we were going to have to be ready for the long haul and we are ready for that," Bostic said.