Local Attorneys React to SCOTUS Decisions on Gay Marriage - WSET.com - ABC13

Local Attorneys React to SCOTUS Decisions on Gay Marriage

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Reporter: Josh Farmer

Lynchburg, VA - The Supreme Court announced two major decisions on gay marriage Wednesday: Striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and giving a boost to gay rights in California. Those two decisions have drummed up a lot reaction locally as well as nationally.

It was a 5-4 decision, so the court's just as split over these issues as the rest of us. Now, local attorneys are chiming in, and there's no consensus there either.

"With the Defense of Marriage Act, you had basically, the federal government saying, ‘Legally-married homosexual couples, or same sex couples, you are less than a legally-married traditional heterosexual couple.' And to me, because of the Equal Protection Clause, I don't see how the court could have ruled any other way," said Jason Shoemaker from Shoemaker & Straw, PLLC. "This ruling is going to have a much greater impact in states where gay marriage is already legal and less so in states like here in Virginia where gay marriage isn't legal."

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, says this is just a beginning the decision and represents a troubling trend.

"I look at whether or not they're exercising legitimate authority and staying true to the Constitution. The fact of the matter is: This court's decision in Federal Defense of Marriage Act has untethered itself from the Constitution. It's no longer tethered to the Constitution. It's just people exercising their own ideological agenda," said Staver.

It shouldn't have much impact locally because the ruling just keeps government from providing unequal benefits to legally married couples. In Virginia, gay couples cannot legally marry.

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