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Judge: Marriage race question unconstitutional

A federal judge has banned enforcement of a requirement that race be listed on Virginia marriage license applications.

The judge declared the requirement unconstitutional.

A lawsuit filed last month against the state registrar and two Virginia court clerks challenged the state requirement to list race.

In a decision issued Oct. 11, U.S. District Court Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr. granted summary judgment for three couples challenging the law. He wrote that the requirement was unconstitutional because it denied the plaintiffs their constitutional right to due process.

Alston’s ruling also prevents the state from enforcing the requirement, saying it burdens the individuals’ right to marry.

State Attorney General Mark Herring wrote in mid-September that circuit court clerks, by law, must ask people seeking a marriage license their race, but he said couples can decline to answer the question.

“We won” said attorney Victor M. Glasberg, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of couples seeking marriage licenses.

“We’re very pleased, of course,” Glasberg said in an email. “The only unfortunate part is that it took a United States district judge to strike a Jim Crow provision that the state of Virginia insisted on defending in court,” he said.

Update Oct. 14: An earlier version of this story from the Associated Press incorrectly stated that the lawsuit challenging the race question law would continue.