RICHMOND, Va. —
A Norfolk couple is challenging Virginia’s gay marriage ban in federal court, saying that it violates their right to equal protection.
Timothy B. Bostic and Tony C. London say in their lawsuit that they were turned down when they tried to obtain a marriage license at the Norfolk Circuit Court on July 1.
Their lawsuit argues that Virginia’s treatment of gays and lesbians is unequal and deprives them of benefits associated with marriage, including favorable tax treatment, federal Medicaid and Social Security benefits, and naval disability benefits.
The lawsuit also says the ban denied Bostic and London liberties that are guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. It asks the court to bar enforcement of all laws that seek to deny gays and lesbians access to civil marriage and civil union.
“All of these benefits are not available to plaintiffs and other same-sex couples in Virginia, but would be available to same-sex couples who marry under state laws authorizing such benefits,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George E. Schaefer. It was filed July 18 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
Bostic is professor of humanities at Old Dominion University and London is a real estate agent and Navy veteran. They have been in a relationship since 1989, according to the lawsuit.
Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/13cLG6m ) that the Attorney General’s Office generally doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Schaefer told the newspaper that he couldn’t comment because he had not yet been served.
The lawsuit was filed five days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevented gay couples from receiving a range of federal benefits that are generally available to married people. The ruling does not Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has said the it plans to file a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban.
ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire G. Gastaqaga told the newspaper that she was aware of Bostic and London’s suit but did not want to comment.