Gay marriage advocates claim small victories in battlegrounds of Virginia, Kansas


Ron Perkins and Reggie Dizon show their support for same-sex marriage on November 20, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.


Scott Olson

Gay rights advocates exhaled on Friday after high-profile battles in Kansas and Virginia took sudden turns.

On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

“The court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s marriage laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” US District Judge Arenda Wright Allen said.

“Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country’s cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.”

A bill passed by Kansas' House of Representatives on Wednesday would allow businesses or public employees to deny gay people services based on religious grounds.

The language of the bill states that a government employee can deny services “if it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill also stipulates that if an employee refuses to serve someone, they should find a replacement.

Lawmakers in Kansas drew national condemnation for the legislation which The Daily Beast called “anti-gay Jim Crow laws.”

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Shortly after the bill passed, however, Susan Wagle — the Kansas state senate's president — said the bill would face an uphill battle in the upper house.

“A strong majority of my members support laws that define traditional marriage, protect religious institutions and protect individuals from being forced to violate their personal moral values,” Wagle said, according to The Kansas City Star. “However, my members also don’t condone discrimination.”

Kansas' bill would need Democratic support to pass.

It might be too soon for that sigh of relief, however, since the some expect the bill to be amended to increase its chances of passing the senate. State Rep. Lance Kinzer told The Kansas City Star he’d agree to include anti-discrimination language.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Wright Allen stayed her decision until appeals are heard.

According to Freedomtomarry.org, 33 states in America have anti-gay marriage laws on the books, compared to 17 that support same-sex unions.

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