CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two county clerks being sued over the state's ban on same-sex marriage can wait to respond until state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey decides if he will intervene, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick and Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole are being sued in federal court by three couples who say West Virginia's gay marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children.
U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers wrote that because "the sole legal issue in this case is the constitutionality of certain West Virginia statues," both clerks could wait to see if Morrisey would intervene before responding.
On Tuesday, McCormick asked Chambers to allow her to hold off on her response, which had been due Wednesday.
Because a constitutional question is being raised, McCormick asked the judge to allow her to wait and see if Morrisey will step in.
Beth Ryan, spokeswoman for Morrisey, said Tuesday that the attorney general is evaluating his options.
Morrisey's office has not responded, but has 60 days from the Oct. 1 filing of the lawsuit to intervene. The clerks must "file any responsive pleading within five days of the Attorney General's intervention or within five days of when the period for intervention expire, whichever comes earlier," the judge's order states.
"This will allow the parties and the Court to have all expected parties subject to a common briefing schedule, which will facilitate efficient resolution of the case."
Attorneys with Lambda Legal, a national civil rights organization, filed the lawsuit. They argued that waiting for intervention from the attorney general isn't a valid reason to grant such a lengthy extension of time.