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Gay couples applying for marriage licenses turned away in Va. on Valentine's Day

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At about a dozen courthouses throughout Virginia, gay couples attempted to get marriage licenses on Valentine's Day. The effort came only about 12 hours after a federal judge issued a ruling that Virginia's constitutional ban on gay marriage is improperly discriminatory. However, the judge stayed her order to allow an appeal.

In Alexandria, the gay couples who brought filled-out applications for marriage licenses were turned away. So were same-sex couples who have legally married in other states, but wanted to register their marriages in Virginia.

About 60 people gathered, sang, and prayed at the courthouse in Alexandria to push for recognition of gay marriage in Virginia. The Valentine's Day demonstration had been long-planned, but the ruling by a federal judge in Norfolk, late Thursday night, elated the crowd.

Part of the ruling (which supports gay marriage rights) was read aloud by John Humphries of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia: "The men and women (and the children, too) whose voices join in noble harmony with plaintiffs, today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it's in this court's power, they, and all others, shall have."

Six same-sex couples came to Alexandria to register to marry or get their current marriages (from other states) recognized by Virginia. Chris Trosiek and Scott Harris have been a couple for 15 years and they want marriage rights.

"As far as like hospital visits," Harris explained. "You know, if one of us was to get sick, we could be denied visitation."

Not everyone supports same-sex marriage. The Family Research Council decries the judge's decision, as activist David Christensen, a vice president for government affairs for the FRC, told us: "Virginians did vote for a marriage between a man and a woman. And they could change that if they wanted to. But I don't think the courts should necessarily put their finger in the air -- test the winds of opinion -- and just make a decision and argue on the basis of the Supreme Court in a way that actually really goes beyond what the Supreme Court said."

All of the gay couples who tried to marry in Alexandria (or register their out-of-state marriage) were turned away at the clerk's office. Francine Wargo, a Virginia resident who wants to marry her same-sex partner in Virginia said, "We'll be back. It may be a year or two years, but I think we'll be able to get a marriage license in Virginia in the near future."

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