Harris, et al. v. Rainey, et al.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Virginia and Lambda Legal have filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in Virginia as well as an end to Virginia's refusal to recognize marriages same-sex couples have legally entered elsewhere. The case was filed on behalf of Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester and seeks to represent all same-sex couples in Virginia who wish to marry here or who have married in other jurisdictions.
The plaintiffs in the case: Joanne Harris, 37, and Jessica Duff, 33, together since 2006, are from Staunton and have a four-year-old son, Jabari. Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd, both 34, are from Winchester and have been together almost ten years. They have a baby daughter, Lydia.
The ACLU, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Virginia, and Jenner and Block filed the lawsuit together as co-counsel in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. In the complaint the plaintiffs allege 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 http://action.aclu.org/couples.
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. 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."