Bostic v. Schaefer (Harris Class Action) - Freedom to Marry in Virginia

In Bostic v. Schaefer, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Virginia, Lambda Legal, and Jenner & Block, LLP, represent a class of all unmarried same-sex couples in Virginia and all same-sex couples in Virginia who have already married in a different jurisdiction (the "Harris Class"). The class action was originally filed as separate litigation in the Western District of Virginia filed on behalf of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd as class representatives for all same-sex couples in Virginia who wish to marry here or who have married in other jurisdictions. After a court in the Eastern District of Virginia struck down Virginia's marriage bans in Bostic, the Harris Class intervened as a party at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to have its constitutional challenges decided as part of the Bostic litigation.

Supreme Court Filings in Bostic

Fourth Circuit Briefs by Harris Class
Fourth Circuit Briefs by Other Parties
Fourth Circuit Amicus Briefs in Support of Bostic and Harris Class
Fourth Circuit Amicus Briefs in Support of Schaefer and McQuigg

The Harris Class representatives are of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff from Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd from Winchester. Joanne and Jessica have been together since 2006, and have a four-year-old son, Jabari. Christy and Victoria have been together almost ten years. They have a baby daughter, Lydia. Their class-class action lawsuit alleges that through the Commonwealth's constitutional and statutory marriage bans and through Defendants' enforcement of them, the Commonwealth and Defendants send a purposeful message that they view lesbians, gay men, and their children as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Virginia couples who have suffered from discrimination and are interested in sharing how marriage discrimination harms their families as part of a campaign for the freedom to marry are encouraged to join the hundreds of other Virginian couples who have filled out a survey at

Status: Victory! On Oct. 6, 2014 the Supreme Court denied review in all of the marriage equality cases pending before it. As a result of the Court’s action, same-sex couples in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah will now be able to marry the partners they love.


Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd

Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd. Together nine years, Christy and Victoria are raising their baby daughter Lydia together in Winchester. Christy, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, works for the Department of Justice. Victoria runs a small business, volunteers extensively for several causes in her community, and is a stay-at-home mother to their little girl. They got married on August 20, 2011 in D.C. and hope their marriage can be recognized in the state in which they plan to raise Lydia and grow old together.

Joanne Harris and Jessi Duff

Joanne Harris and Jessi Duff. Lifelong Virginia natives Joanne, 37, and Jessi, 33, both grew up on farms – Joanne in Big Island, and Jessi in Augusta County. They met 11 years ago at a mutual friend's get-together and now live in Staunton with their four-year-old son Jabari. The family attends an African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Staunton and are members of the YMCA, where Jabari plays soccer and basketball and takes swimming lessons. He also plays Kiwanis t-ball. Joanne was recently appointed as the new Director of Diversity and Advocacy at Mary Baldwin College, and Jessi investigates reports of child abuse for Virginia's child protective services system. Joanne and Jessi had a commitment ceremony in 2006 because it was important to them to have a ceremony before they had children. Jabari sometimes points at a photo in their home from the ceremony and says, "Mommy and Momma DeeDee got married, and they need to really get married."


Statistics image