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Virginia and three other states may soon allow gay marriage after a federal appeals court ruling in Richmond, but supporters of a ban are expected to ask for a Supreme Court hearing.
The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage denies gay couples equal protection under the law. The decision also makes similar prohibitions in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia unconstitutional.
Equality Virginia Director James Parrish says those states probably won't be issuing marriage licenses yet. "This ruling goes into effect until 21 days, but in the interim we expect that it will be appealed and then stayed until a review or decision by the Supreme Court," Parrish says.
Based on census data, Parrish says there are about 14,000 gay and lesbian couples in Virginia. It's legal for them to marry in 19 other states and the District of Columbia.