Supreme Court to hear arguments in landmark same-sex marriage case

WASHINGTON — The issue of same-sex marriage goes before the Supreme Court Tuesday, when the justices will hear more than two hours of arguments to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, and whether states are required to recognize marriages conducted in other states.

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“I’m optimistic and hopeful that we’ll get a strong decision in favor of marriage equality and it will become the law of the land,” says Mark Herring, attorney general of Virginia.

Same-sex marriage cases from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky have been combined into one case that could settle the issue which has divided the nation for more than two decades.

Herring, who declined to defend his own state’s ban on same-sex marriage, plans to be in the court to hear the arguments in the landmark case. In an Amicus brief, he suggests that the justices on the high court could learn from Virginia’s segregated past, its prohibition against interracial marriage and its refusal to allow female cadets at Virginia Military Institute — laws that were eventually struck down by the courts.

“Unfortunately Virginia has gone to the Supreme Court a number of times in the past to defend discrimination,” Herring says. “Virginia has an important story to tell.”

Herring says this time, the commonwealth stands for “equal treatment of all Virginians.”

There’s been no absence of voices on both sides of the issue.

“A marriage between a man and a woman is best for children and children should be reared in a house with a mother and father,” says Christina Parello, of Washington, D.C., who recently attended a rally at the Capitol in support of traditional marriage.

Other rally-goers say traditional marriage has a long history that the courts should leave alone.

“We don’t have the right to redefine that, it’s been defined for hundreds of thousands of years and we want it to stay that way,” says the Rex Evans, of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, a state, like Virginia, whose same-sex marriage ban was struck down by federal judges last year.

“There is a path forward, it is about equality and treating people equally and fairly. That’s an important constitutional principle. It’s there to protect not just same -sex couples, but all of us,” Herring says.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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