A federal judge in western Virginia has certified a class action lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski said in the order that same-sex couples seeking to marry in the state as well as those married in states where gay marriage is legal could challenge Virginia’s ban as a group, Reuters reported.
The suit was filed by two Shenandoah Valley couples. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage laws and a permanent injunction barring their enforcement, according to Reuters.
Lawyers for the couples estimate that there are about 15,000 same-sex households in Virginia.
Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring said his decision not to defend was putting Virginia “on the right side of history” and ending its legacy of opposing landmark civil rights rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, Reuters reported.
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates are trying to push through a bill that would permit them to hire their own counsel to defend the marriage ban. They have threatened to impeach Herring in the past. However, Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe would most likely veto the bill.