The Mountain State has announced that it will “bring to a close” all pending litigation over its same-sex marriage ban after the Supreme Court refused to hear five states’ challenges to rulings that laws preventing LGBT couples from being wed were unconstitutional.
“By refusing to consider the appeal, the Supreme Court has caused the Appeals Court’s decision to become final and binding on West Virginia,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement. “While we disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Fourth Circuit’s opinion to stand and believe it improperly displaces state and local decision-making, we will respect it.”
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin directed state agencies to begin upholding the law. In a statement on the matter, Tomblin said,
“As the attorney general stated today, recent rulings by several federal courts, combined with the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this issue, make it clear that laws banning same-sex marriage have been declared unconstitutional. I do not plan to take any actions that would seek to overturn the courts’ decisions. West Virginia will uphold the law according to these rulings, and I have directed state agencies to take appropriate action to make that possible.
“Our state is known for its kindness and hospitality to residents and visitors alike. I encourage all West Virginians—regardless of their personal beliefs—to uphold our statewide tradition of treating one another with dignity and respect.”
Gay marriage is legal in twenty-six states, plus Washington D.C. Seven additional states are in the same circuit court systems where legislation restricting marriage to same-sex couples has been ruled unconstitutional, including West Virginia.
The paperwork has not been updated, but the Department of Health and Human Resources instructed county clerks to use the existing license forms until one that includes variations aside from “bride” and “groom.”