A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia [official website] certified a class action lawsuit [text, PDF] on Friday challenging Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. "The amended proposed class ... meets the requirements of numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation," US District Judge Michael Urbanski said in his ruling. "Accordingly, the court will enter an appropriate order this day granting plaintiffs' motions and certifying the class." With class certification, the plaintiffs will now be representing all same-sex couples in Virginia, including unmarried couples and those married outside of the state. "We want to be clear that we're fighting for families across the state," said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia [advocacy website], one of the organizations representing the plaintiffs.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been a highly polarizing issue in the American legal community. Numerous challenges to same-sex marriage bans have arisen before state and federal courts just in the last month. On January 23, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring [official profile] announced [JURIST report] that he believes the state's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional and he will not defend legal challenges to it, including the case detailed above. On January 22, six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Florida state court challenging that state's ban on same-sex marriage. On the same day, the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] challenged [JURIST report] Utah's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed after the US District Court for the District of Utah [official website] struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban.