For the second time this summer, a federal appellate court has voted to strike down a ban on same-sex marriage.
A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a district court judge’s decision that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
“We do not dispute that states have refused to permit same-sex marriages for most of our country’s history. However, this fact is irrelevant in this case,” Judge Henry Floyd wrote in the 2-to-1 ruling. “We conclude that the fundamental right to marry encompasses the right to same-sex marriages.”
Judge Floyd was appointed as a district court judge by President George W. Bush and elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Obama.
The decision would take effect in 21 days, but will be stayed if there’s an appeal from defendants, which is considered all but certain.
“Today’s decision is significant because it also renders unconstitutional similar marriage bans in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia - states that are part of the 4th Circuit,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Same-sex marriage is already legal in Maryland, which is also in the circuit.”
Earlier this month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that threw out Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage proponents have won a long string of legal victories since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue last year. It’s expected that the high court will eventually address the matter again, although the justices certainly have not announced any plans to do so.