- (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
A federal court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed against the Commonwealth of Virginia's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage while dozens outside the court protested.
Despite the cold windy weather, protesters outside the U.S. District Court in Norfolk held signs and chanted in support of Virginia's gay marriage ban.
Both sides had demonstrators present Tuesday morning outside the courthouse with both invoking God as being on their side, reported The Virginian-Pilot.
Inside the chamber, Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia heard arguments in the case Bostic vs. Rainey.
Two same-sex couples are suing the Commonwealth over the marriage amendment, passed in 2006 with 57 percent of the vote.
Plaintiffs have a good deal of legal firepower backing their efforts, according to John Riley of the LGBT publication MetroWeekly.
"Assisted by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the plaintiffs' attorneys, including the legal duo of Ted Olson and David Boies who successfully argued in favor of overturning California's Proposition 8 before the U.S. Supreme Court last year," wrote Riley.
They also had the support of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who made national headlines for officially refusing to defend the marriage amendment in court.
In response to his refusal to defend the state constitution, the Virginia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution taking up the legal effort.
"…the General Assembly, the House of Delegates, the Senate of Virginia, or a current member of the General Assembly at the commencement of the proceeding shall have standing and shall have the right to intervene as a party," read House Bill 706.
The pro-amendment protest outside of the Norfolk courtroom was organized by the conservative group the Family Foundation of Virginia.
"AG Herring won't stand up for Virginia's laws, so we will. Join us outside the Norfolk Federal Courthouse this Tuesday as we gather before the Court's first hearing to show our support for the Rule of Law, the Virginia Constitution, & Marriage!" reads the event's description on Facebook.
Bostic vs. Rainey is one of several lawsuits being filed in various states against assorted state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
While last year the U.S. Supreme Court did not comment on the constitutionality of state level bans in their dual decisions, it is believed that the highest Court will eventually tackle the issue.
Judge Wright Allen has promised a quick decision in the case.