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Nation & World

Appeals court in Va. hears gay marriage case

Supporters of traditional marriage and gay marriage demonstrate outside the Federal Appeals Court in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond is taking up the issue of gay marriage, with arguments scheduled on a ruling that the state's ban on such unions is unconstitutional.
Supporters of traditional marriage and gay marriage demonstrate outside the Federal Appeals Court in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond is taking up the issue of gay marriage, with arguments scheduled on a ruling that the state's ban on such unions is unconstitutional.

RICHMOND, Va. — A potentially landmark case on gay marriage is now in the hands of a federal appeals court in Virginia.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday on a judge's ruling that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The case is one of a handful that could ultimately make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the appeals court judges vigorously challenged attorneys for gay-rights couples who argued that the ban violates equal protection and due process guarantees. Another judge was equally aggressive in questioning claims that families are stronger with both a mother and a father.

Hundreds of demonstrators on both sides gathered outside the courthouse. A decision is expected in several weeks or months.

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