WASHINGTON, DC (AP/WAVY) - Advocates on both sides of the gay marriage debate agree that the Supreme Court's decisions in two cases don't affect Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
The Supreme Court struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples. It also left a lower court ruling overturning California's gay marriage ban intact. But that decision was based on a legal technicality and did not address the constitutionality of state laws prohibiting same-sex unions.
Several University of Virginia law professors commented on the topic Wednesday. Constitutional law expert, Dick Howard, explained why the decision won't impact Virginia .
"Since the decision's premise is that states have the traditional prerogative of defining marriage, it does not say that states are obliged to recognize same-sex marriage," said Howard. "The decision's federalism reasoning implies that states are free to decide whether to recognize same-sex marriage or not."
States like Virginia, and other states with similar laws, won't have to suddenly reverse the bans and grant federal benefits to same-sex spouses.
Another UVA law professor, Kim Forde-Mazrui, says the same reasoning the Supreme Court used to come their decision on DOMA could be comparable to state laws.
"Although the case only involved federal law, its reasoning strongly implies that state law bans on same-sex marriage are constitutionally vulnerable," said Forde-Mazrui.
James Parrish of Equality Virginia praised the Supreme Court's rulings. He said the gay-rights organization will continue working to repeal Virginia's gay marriage ban.
Victoria Cobb of the conservative Family Foundation said she was disappointed the federal law was struck down. But she noted that Virginia's prohibition stands.
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