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West Virginia couples sue for marriage rights

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Three same-gender couples today sued the State of West Virginia for the freedom to marry.

Plaintiffs Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, of St. Albans have been together for 16 years and are raising a son, Drew, 6.

Plaintiffs Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, of Huntington have been together for more than three years.

Plaintiffs Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, of Huntington have been together for more than two years.

"West Virginia is home for us. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us," said Michael, a lifelong West Virginian.

"Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn't enough. We need the protection that marriage affords," she said.

Lambda Legal filed the federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of the three couples and Drew.

"Every day that same-sex couples in West Virginia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that they are second class citizens and their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect. West Virginia's state motto 'Mountaineers are Always Free' is hollow until all West Virginians - no matter who they love - have the freedom to marry," said Beth Littrell, staff attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

"The fight for the freedom to marry has come south. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or West Virginia," Littrell said.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel fromTinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia's marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-gender couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that opposite-gender couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Read the complaint HERE:

McGee et al. v. Cole et al

Lambda Legal attorneys Beth Littrell and Camilla Taylor are handling the case, joined by West Virginia co-counsel Jack Tinney and Heather Foster Kittredge of Tinney Law Firm, PLLC and cooperating attorneys Paul Smith, Luke Platzer and Lindsay Harrison of Jenner & Block.

The case is McGee et al. v. Cole et al.

Please click HERE to meet plaintiffs Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins. [pictured top left]

Please click HERE to meet plaintiffs Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris. [pictured bottom left]

Please click HERE to meet plaintiffs Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton. [pictured above right]