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Same-sex couples file suit challenging Virginia gay marriage ban

Class-action lawsuit filed Thursday asks a federal judge to declare unconstitutional Virginia's ban on gay marriage. It is the latest such suit to be filed since the US Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA in late June.

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Two same-sex couples in Virginia filed suit on Thursday asking a federal judge to declare the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of all similarly situated gay and lesbian couples in Virginia, is the latest in a growing number of lawsuits across the country challenging restrictive marriage laws after the US Supreme Court invalidated a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in late June.

The suit, filed in federal court in Harrisonburg, Va., takes aim at state provisions considered among the most restrictive in the nation. In addition to the constitutional ban limiting marriage to a union between one man and one woman, Virginia law also bars civil unions, partnership contracts, or any other arrangements that seek to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage to same-sex couples. The state also bars any recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions entered into in other states.

Virginia voters ratified a constitutional amendment in 2006 limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The vote was 57 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed.

“The Commonwealth, without any adequate justification, has enacted an unprecedented series of statutory and constitutional amendments to single out lesbian and gay Virginians by excluding them from the freedom to marry,” the lawsuit says in part.

The Virginia restrictions send a “purposeful message that [Virginia and its public officials] view lesbians, gay men, and their children as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage,” the suit says.

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