Virginia Marriage Equality

On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied the review of the seven Federal Circuit Court rulings from the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits.  These rulings held state bans on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.  In doing so, the Supreme Court has allowed those favorable rulings for same-sex marriage to stand.  This means that five more states will be added to the list of states allowing same-sex marriage including Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  It also means that marriage bans in the other states within those Federal Circuits will likely be invalidated.  This would include North Carolina, South Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and West Virginia. 

In Virginia, since the appeal has now been denied, the Virginia Attorney General has issued a statement indicating that the Fourth Circuit is expected to lift the stay by 1:00 PM on October 6, 2014, allowing marriages to begin at that time across the Commonwealth.  Clerks of court are currently preparing to issue marriage licenses. Thus, the decision of the Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will stand and same sex marriages will now be performed in and recognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In addition, if you were married in a state that legally allowed same-sex marriage, you are now legally married in the Commonwealth of Virginia and afforded all of the rights and obligations of a legally married couple including for all purposes under federal law.  You will now have to file married state and federal tax returns. 

Adoption – Second Parent and Step Parent Adoption

For parents, if you are married and you are the non-legal parent of your child(ren), you should be able to obtain a step-parent adoption in the Commonwealth of Virginia and become a legally recognized parent of your child(ren).  However, this may not be immediate as parentage issues often take time after marriage recognition to fall into place.  What we know for certain is that if you live in Virginia and you give birth in the District of Columbia, you can certainly procure an adoption in D.C. which will be recognized in Virginia and all the other states in the Country.  In addition, the District of Columbia provides you the option to obtain the adoption as a second parent adoption rather than a step parent adoption.  While small, the difference is that with the second parent adoption, the adoption is not based on a marriage that a non-recognition state official might attempt to challenge thus challenging parentage.  The District of Columbia process is a straightforward and secure method to ensure your parental rights. 

Please be aware that because not all 50 states recognize your marriage, you should still perform a second- or step-parent adoption so that your legal relationship to your children can be recognized in all 50 states.  Before attempting an adoption, you should consult an adoption attorney to discuss your options and rights.  For more information on Virginia Adoption for LGBT parents, click here: http://www.equalityvirginia.org.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax