RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal appeals court refused Wednesday to delay its ruling striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban, which means that same-sex couples could begin marrying in the state as early as next week.<br />
The state would also need to start recognizing marriages from out of state by next Wednesday, assuming the U.S. Supreme Court does not intervene.<br />
A county clerk in northern Virginia had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay its decision, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court. The appeals court's order did not explain why it denied that request.<br />
While clerks in other states within the 4th Circuit - West Virginia and the Carolinas - wouldn't technically have to begin issuing licenses as well, federal courts in the state would likely make them if they don't, said Nancy Leong, a law professor at the University of Denver. Maryland, another state in the circuit, already allows same-sex marriages.<br />
The 4th Circuit decision "shows that there's no longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying," Leong said. "Given how many different judges in so many different parts of the country ... have reached the same result, it seems highly likely that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits, and I think that, in turn, explains why the 4th Circuit was not willing to grant a stay."<br />
Ken Connelly, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Prince William County Clerk of Court Michele B. McQuigg in the case, said the group will seek an emergency stay from the nation's highest court "as soon as possible." That request will go to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is responsible for the 4th Circuit.<br />
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
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