- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Virginia law requiring couples registering for marriage licenses to disclose their race was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge Friday.

Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. ruled that the law violates the 14th Amendment and forcing couples “to disclose their race in order to receive marriage licenses burdens their fundamental right to marry.”

“(T)he statutory scheme is a vestige of the nation’s and of Virginia’s history of codified racialization,” Judge Alston wrote.

SEE ALSO: Read the Virginia ruling

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” he added. “But like other institutions, that stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most import institution … the Constitution of the United States of America.”

The lawsuit against the Virginia State Registrar originated from three couples who said they were denied marriage licenses for not disclosing their race.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced in September a new policy that would be instituted requiring a “Declined to Answer” box under the race question, plus requiring court clerks to issue marriage licenses “regardless of an applicant’s answer or non-answer to that inquiry.”

The plaintiffs said at the time that they didn’t think the issue was fully “resolved” and planned on continuing to press the case and have the law removed altogether, The Washington Post reported.

“It’s a good first step, but as far as we know the case is still going to go forward, and we’re hoping the judge doesn’t declare it moot,” said one of the plaintiffs, Ashley Ramkishun. “It doesn’t resolve the fact that there’s still a law in place in Virginia — the state could change its mind at any point in regards to whether the race question is optional or not.”

Judge Alston agreed, saying Mr. Herring “provided a construction of the statute that is expressly at odds with its plain meaning,” and while the clerks “swore to uphold General Herring’s interpretation,” Mr. Herring’s “interpretation lacks the force of law.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide