A federal judge in Virginia invalidated the state's ban on same-sex marriage late Thursday but stayed her ruling pending appeal.
It was the latest victory for advocates of gay marriage: A day earlier, a federal judge struck down part of Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban, joining a string of similar rulings in conservative states that have put the future of the country's remaining bans in doubt.
U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's decision opens with a quote from Mildred Loving, made on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia:
We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn't that what marriage is? ...I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. ...I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
And it ends:
Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.
Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: "I can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just ...the same thing—fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have."
The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have.
Well, holy shit. Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!