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Gay marriage news: Appeals court refuses stay in Va. same-sex marriage ruling

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Same-sex marriage in the state of Virginia received another jolt on Wednesday. According to a report by the Associated Press, a federal appeals court refused to delay its ruling striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban. The ruling means that same-sex couples could begin marrying in the state as early as next week. The court's decision came after a county clerk in northern Virginia asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay its decision while an appeal is heard in the high court.

The country clerk made the request because Virginia General Attorney Mark Herring said he will not defend the state's ban. Despite supporting the court's ruling that struck down the state ban, Herring also requested a stay and asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court's decision last week in an effort to assure the marriages of gay and lesbian couples don't hit any other roadblocks or are reversed once a Supreme Court decision is made.

Wednesday's ruling from the U.S. court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richard will now lift any delay in those marriages. Assuming the Supreme Court won't intervenes, same-sex couples will be able to marry next week and the state would also have to start recognizing same-sex marriages from out of state.

James Parrish, the executive director of Equality Virginia, called the ruling a thrilling victory. He said in a statement, "There is no doubt that Virginia is ready for the freedom to marry....We are thrilled that the 4th Circuit denied the request for a stay and hope that we will see wedding celebrations in Virginia as early as next week. marriage validates the commitment couples make to one another and, if the Supreme Court doesn't intervene, achieving marriage equality in Virginia will be a tremendous step forward."

Those celebration can be halted if an emergency stay is granted by the Supreme court. The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is expected to seek the emergency stay "as soon as possible." Ken Connelly, legal counsel for the group, expects the stay to be granted using the case in Utah as his reference. He believes the similarities in the cases will lead the Supreme Court to delay same-sex marriages.