October 1, 2013
Today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry, and the child of one of the couples. The case was filed on behalf of Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew, of St. Albans.
Nancy Michael, Lambda Legal plaintiff and a lifelong West Virginian, said:
West Virginia is home for us. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us. Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn’t enough. We need the protection that marriage affords.
Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, have been together for 16 years and their son, Drew, is 6. Of the other plaintiffs, Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, have been together for more than three years, and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, have been together for more than two years.
Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, said:
Every day that same-sex couples in West Virginia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that they are second class citizens and their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect. West Virginia’s state motto “Mountaineers are Always Free” is hollow until all West Virginians—no matter who they love—have the freedom to marry. The fight for the freedom to marry has come south. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or West Virginia.
In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from Tinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.