A federal judge struck down a Virginia law that required couples to disclose their race while applying for a marriage license, ruling it unconstitutional.
The ruling comes after three couples filed a lawsuit against the Virginia State Registrar and others claiming that they were denied marriage licenses in Virginia after they refused to reveal their race on their application, CNN reports.
Judge Rossie D. Alton found on Friday that this law violates the 14th Amendment, writing in his ruling that the law “burdens [the couples’] fundamental right to marry.”
“(T)he statutory scheme is a vestige of the nation’s and of Virginia’s history of codified racialization,” he wrote.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia is naturally rich in its greatest traditions,” he added. “But like other institutions, that stain of past mistakes, misgivings and discredited legislative mandates must always survive the scrutiny of our nation’s most import institution … the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Last month, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that couples seeking marriage licenses would be able to mark a box noting that they “declined to answer” instead of disclosing their race, and that clerks of court across Virginia have gotten the new forms and a memo.
However, the couples involved in the lawsuit persevered and demanded more, noting that Herring’s order could be rescinded once he is no longer in office.
The judge agreed with the plaintiffs, noting that although the clerks of court “swore to uphold General Herring’s interpretation,” they still have to “uphold the statute, and General Herring’s interpretation lacks the force of law.”