The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Virginia has struck down that state's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, by a 2-1 vote.
The decision Monday upheld a ruling by U.S. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in February that found the ban violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. In 2006, Virginia passed an amendment to the state Constitution declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman.
"Because there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and there are rational reasons for not recognizing it, just as there are rational reasons for recognizing it, I conclude that we, in the Third Branch, must allow the States to enact legislation on the subject in accordance with their political processes," Judge Henry Floyd wrote in the appeals ruling.
"The U.S. Constitution does not, in my judgment, restrict the States' policy choices on this issue. If given the choice, some States will surely recognize same-sex marriage and some will surely not. But that is, to be sure, the beauty of federalism."
Federal judges in other states such as Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Wisconsin have struck down similar state bans in the past year, with varying success. In Utah's case, the state ban could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.