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Va. clerk asks US Supreme Court to uphold people’s freedom to affirm marriage

ADF attorneys represent Prince William County clerk of court

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Prince William County Clerk of Court Michèle B. McQuigg filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday that asks the court to preserve the freedom of Americans to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued a 2-1 decision against Virginia’s marriage amendment in Bostic v. Schaefer. The U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the decision while the case is on appeal as McQuigg v. Bostic.

“The people of Virginia – and the people of every state – should continue to have the authority to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws,” said ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione. “Courts shouldn’t decide the legal destiny of marriage in any state, let alone in every state. We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm what it said in its Windsor decision last year: that marriage law is the business of the states.”

“As the Supreme Court also recognized just this year, the people of each state should be free to decide even the most controversial social issues,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. “The high court, therefore, should affirm the right of Americans to decide these important questions for themselves.”

As the petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court explains, “The decision below held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires States like Virginia to redefine marriage from a gendered (man-woman) institution to a genderless (any two persons) institution. Whether the Constitution itself requires such a fundamental redefinition of marriage is an exceedingly important question that should be settled by this Court. The time for answering that question – the time for deciding whether the People throughout the various States are free to affirm their chosen marriage policy – is now.”

“In Windsor, this Court extolled the benefits of ‘allow[ing] the formation of consensus’ when the People seek ‘a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times’ on the definition of marriage…. Similarly, in Schuette v. BAMN…(2014), a plurality of this Court affirmed the People’s ‘right to speak and debate and learn and then, as a matter of political will, to act through a lawful electoral process…’ that ‘shape[s] the course of their own times…’ on public-policy questions that are ‘sensitive,’ ‘complex,’ ‘delicate,’ ‘arcane,’ ‘difficult,’ ‘divisive,’ and ‘profound….’ Reinforcing what was said in those cases, this Court should step in and confirm that the Fourteenth Amendment does not eradicate the People’s abiding right to decide this critical question of social policy for themselves.”

A February CBS News/New York Times poll found that 64 percent of American adults believe that states should have the freedom to determine marriage policy for themselves.

  • Pronunciation guide: Babione (BABB’-ee-ohn)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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Jim Campbell
Jim Campbell
Chief Legal Counsel
Jim Campbell serves as chief legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he leads the U.S. Legal Advocacy team.