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Gay marriage news: Virginia prepares for possibility of same-sex marriages

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Same-sex marriages could begin on Thursday in the state of Virginia. According to a report by the Associated Press on Wednesday, officials are preparing for that possibility by drafting a revised marriage license form for courthouse clerks to use as soon as they open their doors. Whether Virginia same-sex couples will be able to wed will depend on possible interference by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down by a federal judge and was again struck down by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following an appeal by county clerks. By upholding the initial decision, the appeals court cleared the way for gay couples to marry. Those same-sex marriages can legally begin at 8 a.m. Thursday if a stay isn’t granted by the high court.

The anticipation puts county clerks in a bit of a bind because if the decision is favorable, there will be an influx of marriage license applicants. To prepare for this, a revision to marriage licenses was seen as necessary. Michael Kelly, a spokes man for the Virginia Attorney Genera’s Office, told the Associated Press that the revised license forms “would reflect the constitutional right of same-sex couples to legally marry in Virginia by asking for the name and gender of each spouse, whereas before the form required a bride and groom because that was all the Commonwealth could legally recognize.”

While they wait, a number of county clerks are preparing for large crowds. In places like Richmond, deputy clerks are being brought in to assist at the marriage-license desk. According to a census report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, there are between 5,487 and 7,122 same-sex Virginia couples who would get married within the next three years.

Advocates and same-sex couples are hopeful their state doesn’t go in the same path as Utah, where the Supreme Court has intervened and put a stay on gay marriages. On Monday, plaintiffs and advocates asked that the late July ruling not be delayed. If gay marriages aren’t delayed, not only will couples be able to wed, the same would also need to start recognizing out-of-state gay marriages.

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