Gay-rights groups in 3 states closely eye Va. Case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A three-judge federal appeals court panel hears arguments today in a Virginia same-sex marriage case that could also affect similar laws in neighboring states.

Gay-rights activists say a federal appeals court decision invalidating Virginia's same-sex marriage ban could either strike down other bans or virtually ensure the success of similar lawsuits in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. All those states are part of the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appellate court, in Richmond, will hear arguments on a judge's ruling striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage case. Judge Arena Wright Allen ruled in February that the prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection and due process guarantees.

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