A federal appeals court appears to have cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin in Virginia as early as next week, but that could be put on hold indefinitely if the nation's highest court intervenes.
The state also would need to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state next Wednesday after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision not to delay its ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban.
While the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively put same-sex marriages on hold again if opponents in the case are able to win an emergency delay, supporters offered tempered excitement.
"Virginia's loving, committed gay and lesbian couples and their children should not be asked to wait one more day for their fundamental right to marry," said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which argued against Virginia's gay marriage ban. However, the group noted that the couples in the case understand the ruling will likely be appealed "and until then any prospect of marriage equality will be on hold."
The Virginia lawsuit was filed by Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, who were denied a marriage license, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County. The women were married in California and wanted their marriage recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter.