by: Jakob Cole
Just over a year after couple Timothy Bostic and Tony London filed a lawsuit in federal court over the issue of gay marriage, the Supreme Court finally came down with a ruling. After a long and tenuous series of appeals and court hearings, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Bostic vs. Schaefer, thereby allowing the initial ruling to stand. As of Oct. 6, 2014, same-sex marriage is legal in the state of Virginia, to the approval of most. “If it brings them happiness, it should be allowed. It was the right thing to do,” said junior Tinh Son.
For many years, this issue has been a hot topic of discussion all over the country. “A couple of years ago, my students were split on this issue,” said Social Studies teacher John Hiltz, who is also the sponsor of Gay Straight Alliance. The same could have been said for most of the country as well. However, recently, the majority of views of the country have changed. “Now there is no opposition to same-sex marriage in my class,” added Hiltz. This trend is showing in the latest Supreme Court rulings. Along with Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court also rejected appeals and therefore legalized same-sex marriage in four other states: Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Utah. The movement of same-sex marriage approval seems to be increasing, as 30 states now approve same-sex marriage and the percentage of Americans that now approve of it is at an all-time high of 52 percent. “By choosing this route, they (Supreme Court) have already decided the ruling for future states having this issue,” said Hiltz. “I don’t see them reversing course.”
The popularity of same-sex marriage has not always been like it is today, especially in Virginia. To go along with years and years of disapproval for this movement, an amendment in 2006 made it even harder for a change. That same year, supporters of the anti-gay movement helped pass through the Marshall-Newman Amendment, also known as the Virginia Marriage Amendment. This amendment excluded same-sex couples from marriage and prohibited same-sex couples from obtaining any other form of legal family status. To any same-sex supporter, this seemed like an insurmountable obstacle for any attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in Virginia.
However, this was not the case. On Feb. 13, 2014, a U.S. District Court ruled that the Marshall-Newman Amendment was unconstitutional in the case Bostic vs. Schaefer. The courage of Timothy Bostic and Tony London, in addition to the help of attorneys Erik Porcaro, Robert Ruloff, Thomas Shuttleworth and Charles Lustig; lesbian couple Carol Schall and Mary Townley, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring; Governor Terry McAuliffe; and countless others; this issue was brought to the forefront and ultimately changed. This Supreme Court decision marks a remarkable and important event in the progress of the same-sex movement, the progress of the United States and ultimate the progress of the state of Virginia, a state that has been hesitant in the past to change from its old ways. “It signifies a rapid evolution on our views of same-sex relationships in our country,” said Hiltz. As the country shifts towards a more liberal movement, Virginia follows suit.