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Judge lifts stay in W.Va. marriage suit

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.  — U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers delivered same-sex marriage advocates a partial victory Tuesday but stopped short of striking down West Virginia’s marriage ban as unconstitutional.

The afternoon court order cleared the way for arguments to resume in the year-old lawsuit, while county and state officials in Kanawha County continued work to reformat the state’s marriage license in anticipation of the law’s eventual defeat. Both moves come in light of this week’s Supreme Court decision that turned away appeals from five states, including Virginia, and rendered bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Those advocating for gay and lesbian couples in West Virginia believe the Virginia mandate sets legal precedent, in effect settling a lawsuit brought by three couples in Huntington and St. Albans, West Virginia.

Their lawsuit, filed Oct. 1, 2013, argues clerks in Kanawha and Cabell counties violated the 14th Amendment right to due process and equal protection in denying a request for marriage licenses brought by three same-sex couples.

The case involves plaintiffs William Glavaris with fiance Justin Murdock and Casie McGee with fiancee Sarah Adkins, all of Huntington, along with lesbian couple Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton with their child of St. Albans, West Virginia.

Chambers’ order did not rule in the plaintiffs’ favor as to the final outcome, but restarted a process that could yield a final decision as early as November…

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