Virginia couples won't have to disclose their race to get a marriage license, attorney general says

Posted Sunday, 15 September 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Couples applying for marriage licenses in Virginia will no longer have to disclose their race, the state's attorney general said, after three couples said they were denied marriage licenses after declining to do so.Applicants will now be able to check a box on the form that says, "declined to answer," a spokesman from Attorney General Mark Herring's office said Sunday. Clerks of court across Virginia received the new form and a memo, said Herring's spokesman. The memo states that "clerks should issue a license regardless of an applicant's answer or non-answer to that inquiry." "We were happy to help quickly resolve this issue and get these couples what they asked for," Herring said in a statement. "These changes will ensure that no Virginian will be forced to label themselves in order to get married. I appreciate the courage these couples showed in raising this issue, and I wish them all the best in their lives together." Herring's new guidance was sent out after three couples sued the state to overturn the statute, which asked marriage applicants to disclose their race in order to get a marriage license.The lawsuit alleges the requirement is unconstitutional and a remnant of the state's racist history. That requirement, it says, was born out of the state's 1924 "Act to Preserve Racial Integrity," which was meant to ensure that whites and non-whites did not marry. "The requirement to identify by 'race' uses terms grounded in ignorance and bigotry, not in science," the lawsuit says, adding that it reflects "Virginia's historical repression of non-white persons." 'It's merely a Band-Aid'But the couples are moving forward with the lawsuit anyway because the statute is still Virginia law, despite Herring's new guidance."Yes, we still plan to move forward with the suit," said Ashley Ramkishun, who said she was initially denied a marriage license after she and her fiance, Samuel Sarfo, did not disclose their races. She identifies as West Indian or Caribbean and felt that none of the options available on the form adequately captured the complexity of her background. She was told to mark "other," but said, "I'm not other." "The provision in the statute is still intact so the announcement does not necessarily solve the problem," Ramkishun told CNN Sunday. "It's merely a Band-Aid." Brandyn Churchill and his fiancee, Sophie Rogers, were denied a license for their wedding in October, they said. They were provided with a list of 230 terms to choose from to identify their race, including outdated terms like "mulatto" and "quadroon.""We believe that the AG's guidance is a welcome first step," Churchill said Sunday. "However, we will continue to challenge the constitutionality of the statute, so that the decision cannot be reversed by a change of position or Attorney General." He added that he's heard from several state legislators hoping to strike the law from the Virginia code during the next legislative session. Herring's office did not immediately respond Sunday when asked about the couples' intention to move forward with the lawsuit.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Cyntoia Brown says she's honored to be the picture of what a second chance after prison looks like. Brown was granted clemency and released from prison after spending more than a decade jailed for killing Johnny Mitchell Allen, who...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly shattered political tradition, may find himself in another unprecedented circumstance in 2020: He could become the first president ever to be impeached by the House and then seek another term in the next...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

More women have found their way into the C-suite in the past five years. But reaching parity with men in leadership roles is still far out of reach.The percentage of C-suite executives who are women has risen to 21%, up...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A version of this story first appeared in CNN's Impeachment Watch newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.Two important things happened Monda in the impeachment inquiry: one of the key people involved...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)A wide range of American military personnel and defense officials are expressing a deep sense of frustration and anger at the Trump administration's refusal to support Syrian Kurds facing a Turkish military assault, over half a dozen US...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Twelve Democrats will line up in swing state Ohio on Tuesday for a crucial debate in their White House battle, which will unfold as their party gears up to consider impeachment -- the ultimate political sanction -- against President Donald...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Basketball star LeBron James has finally weighed in on the ongoing NBA-China dispute, criticizing Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey as being misinformed about the situation. The league is embroiled in a standoff with China after Morey...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Washingtion (CNN)The White House said it waived executive privilege claims for former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill related to President Donald Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. However, White House deputy counsel Michael...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Optimism is fading over last week's tentative trade truce between the United States and China.Asian stocks were mixed Tuesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) inched down 0.1%. China's Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) dropped...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

New York (CNN Business)According to Ronan Farrow's new book, The National Enquirer's top editor directed staffers to shred documents when the Wall Street Journal called for comment before publishing the first story about the Enquirer's "catch and kill"...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)Scientist Sandy Song remembers when she first saw the aggressive swirl of the monster storm approaching on satellite images at her office at the Hong Kong Observatory. "I was afraid," she says. "It had a very sharp eyewall and also the...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A man walked into a California police department Monday and told officers he had killed four people, police say. One of the bodies was in the car the suspect drove to the Mt. Shasta Police Department. His three other victims were in his apartment...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Almost exactly a year since Jayme Closs was kidnapped and her parents killed, the 13-year-old says she's happy to be back home and doing what she enjoys. "I really want to thank everyone for all of the kindness and concern that people all over the...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Pacific Gas & Electric should give rebates or credits to each of its nearly 800,000 customers affected by last week's power shutoffs, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, demanding that the utility "be held accountable."The utility intentionally...

Posted Tuesday, 15 October 2019 ‐ CNN

Washington (CNN)Attorneys for President Donald Trump's former top Russia adviser argued in a letter sent on Sunday that no executive privilege issues were in play for her testimony, citing potential "government misconduct" as one reason for their...