Recognition of same-sex unions in West Virginia

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Same-sex marriage in West Virginia is currently banned by state statute.

State statues[edit]

A state statute defines marriage between a man and a woman. In 2009, a bill that would amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage in the state was overwhelmingly voted down (67-30) by the House of Delegates. All 29 House Republicans voted to move the measure out of committee, along with one Democrat. The amendment was heavily supported by Evangelical groups in the state and the Family Council Policy of West Virginia.[1] In 2010, "The Marriage Protection Amendment" was re-introduced in both the House of Delegates and the Senate. Republican efforts to discharge the measure from the House Constitutional Revision Committee and were defeated (68-30). The amendment was later defeated in the Senate.

In December 2011, Delegate John Doyle introduced a bill to legalize civil unions in West Virginia as one of his last acts before retirement in 2012.[2][3] It was submitted to the House of Delegates in February 2012 and died without a vote.[4]

West Virginia has extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples through a designated visitor statute.[5]

McGee v. Cole[edit]

McGee v. Cole
No. 3:13-cv-24068
United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia
Date decided Case in progress.
Judge sitting Robert Chambers, U.S.D.J.
Case history
Prior actions Stay of proceedings ordered pending 4th Cir. ruling in Bostic v. Shaefer (Jun. 10, 2014), motion to dismiss denied in part (Jan. 29, 2014).

On October 1, 2013, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, McGee v. Cole, in U.S. District Court on behalf of three same-sex couples and one of their children challenging the state's denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The suit named two county clerks as defendants.[6] On November 21, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asked the court to allow his office to defend the state's statutes,[7] and on December 19 both he and the clerk asked the court to dismiss part of the suit.[8] On January 30, 2014, the judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers, dismissed the part of the suit challenging the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, since none of the plaintiffs had married elsewhere, but he invited the plaintiffs to add plaintiffs that had done so and the plaintiffs said they were considering that.[9]

On June 10, 2014, the Judge Chambers ordered a stay of proceedings until there is a ruling in Bostic v. Shaefer. Bostic is a same-sex marriage case above in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; the district judge reasoned that "because of the overlap in the issues present" the Virginia case should be decided first.[10] Such an order matches those in two other same-sex marriage cases bound by the Fourth Circuit: Harris v. Rainey, a Virginia case, and Bradacs v. Haley, a South Carolina case.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "West Virginia House Blocks Amendment Attempt". March 31, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Jefferson County Delegate Will Not Seek Reelection". WEPM Radio News. December 22, 2011. 
  3. ^ "West Virginia Delegate John Doyle Plans Civil Unions Bill". On Top Magazine. December 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bill Introduced in W.Va. Would Allow Civil Unions". WSAZ. February 17, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Hospital Visitation Rights". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ Snow, Justin (October 1, 2013). "West Virginia same-sex couples file lawsuit for marriage rights". Metro Weekly. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ "WV AG to Intervene in Gay Marriage Case". Washington Post. November 22, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Federal judge asked to dismiss West Virginia gay marriage suit". Cumberland Times-News. December 19, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Judge allows most of lawsuit challenging W.Va. gay marriage ban to proceed". Daily Journal. January 31, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  10. ^ White, Kate (Staff Writer) (10 June 2014). "W.Va. gay marriage suit to await higher court ruling". The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette. Retrieved 11 June 2014.