The Commonwealth of Virginia will not begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples tomorrow as some expected, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court order filed this afternoon. In a one-page order issued on August 20, the high court granted a Virginia Circuit Court Clerk’s request for a stay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer, while a petition is filed with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to review the case. In its Bostic decision, the Fourth Circuit struck down Virginia’s marriage amendment.
The Supreme Court order written by Chief Justice John Roberts places the Fourth Circuit decision in the Virginia case on hold “pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari.” The stay means that same-sex “marriages,” which were expected to begin in Virginia as early as August 21, are on hold for now until the Court decides whether or not to accept the Bostic case for review. It also delays the potential impact of the Fourth Circuit decision on North Carolina, which is one of the states within the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Prince William County Clerk of Court Michèle B. McQuigg in defense of Virginia’s marriage amendment. “Virginians deserve an orderly and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws,” ADF senior counsel Byron Babione said in a statement. “By granting our request to place a hold on the 4th Circuit’s decision, the Supreme Court is making clear, as it already did in the Utah marriage case, that it believes a dignified process is better than disorder. The Supreme Court acted wisely in restraining the lower court from implementing a ruling of this magnitude before the high court has a chance to decide the issue.”