The suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal claims Virginia's 2006 ban on gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions in other states violates the U.S. Constitution.

Fourteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia now recognize marriage between same-sex couples with several, most recently New Jersey, dropping their prior bans after the U.S. Supreme Court in June delivered a landmark victory for gay rights by forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in states where it is legal.

"Tens of thousands of (gay) couples in Virginia would marry, if they had the opportunity to," said attorney Luke Platzer, on behalf of plaintiffs Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton as well as Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester.