RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are filing a federal class action lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
According to a press release from the ACLU, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton as well as Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester. The group also seeks to represent all same-sex couples in Virginia wishing to be married in the Commonwealth.
In July, the ACLU announced its intentions to file the lawsuit, stating Virginia's ban on gay marriage violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Harris, 37, and Duff, 35, have been together since 2006 and have a 4-year-old son.
"Virginia is home for us. Our families are here, our jobs are here, and our community is a great support for us, but it makes us sad that we cannot get married where we live," said Harris. "It hits me in the gut that two hours from our house same-sex couples in Maryland and D.C. can marry. I have a serious medical condition and we've had to spend lots of money to try to make sure that Jessi can make decisions for me if there were ever a crisis."
Berghoff and Kidd, both 34, have been together nearly 10 years, the ACLU said. The couple has an 8-month-old daughter.
"I'm an Air Force veteran, and if Virginia would just respect our marriage from D.C., it would ensure that my spouse and family could access all the benefits I've earned," Berghoff said. "I've been with Victoria for almost a decade now; and it hurts to have our home state say we are not married when it recognizes marriages entered into by different-sex couples who may have only recently met."
"This is one America. It's time for the freedom to marry to come to the South," Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta added. "We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or Virginia."
The ACLU is asking couples and families willing to share their stories publicly to do so by clicking here .
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