The historically conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today heard arguments in a pivotal same-sex marriage case, and appeared poised to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Court watchers have described some of the questions asked by the three-member panel of judges as “combative” against opponents of equality, and noting that at least to of the three judges seemed to side with the advocates of same-sex marriage.
The case, Bostic v. Schaefer, was argued by Prop 8 attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies. Newly-elected Virginia Democrats, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, do not support the ban and would not defend it in court.
Writing at Buzzfeed, Chris Geidner indicated that the lone judge who seemed opposed to same-sex marriage, Paul Niemeyer, “was the only judge hearing the arguments who pressed heavily on the side of the state’s ban, saying that same-sex couples are creating a ‘brand new relationship’ and that ‘it takes a male and female to have a child, to have a family.’”
The “core of a family” is the mother-father relationship, Niemeyer told Ted Olson, who was arguing for same-sex couples fighting the 2006 marriage ban. Describing that relationship as “A” and same-sex couples’ relationships as “B,” Niemeyer said that “the state can redefine it and call it marriage,” but that wouldn’t change the fact that “these are two different relationships.”
Judge Roger Gregory appeared to take great exception with an argument from Austin Nimocks, the attorney from the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom.
Geidner reports that “Nimocks said, ‘I don’t think Virginia denies anything to same-sex couples that they don’t deny a single mother’ or a grandparent raising a grandchild. Gregory shot back: ‘If you’re concerned about the children, why does Virginia want to rip that away from a child’ whose parents are of the same sex?”
Judge Gregory concluded that Nimocks’ “interest in children” is “really disingenuous.”
Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, Brian Brown of the National Organization For Marriage trotted out a few schoolchildren and made them hold up signs claiming that all children need a mom and a dad. The kids did not look pleased.
And according to Box Turtle Bulletin, one speaker at the nearby anti-gay rally, “Dean Nelson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, told the crowd, ‘Things have gotten so bad that even when you’re watching ESPN on Mother’s Day we have the kisses of homosexuals forced down our throats.’”
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