Virginia gay marriage case: Appeals court to hear case

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A federal appeals court in Virginia is taking up the issue of gay marriage, with arguments scheduled on a ruling that the state's ban on such unions is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear the arguments Tuesday. It's the third gay-marriage case to reach the arguments stage in a federal appeals court. Both sides expect the issue to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two same-sex couples filed the lawsuit challenging Virginia's constitutional amendment and state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage and barring recognition of such unions performed in other states. The defendants are two circuit court clerks and the state registrar of vital records.

The Richmond-based appeals court typically rules weeks, or even months, after arguments.

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