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Virginia attorney general: couples can decline to disclose race on marriage application

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Sept. 15 (UPI) — Virginia’s attorney general said couples seeking marriage licenses in the state will no longer be required to reveal their race following a lawsuit filed by three couples against the rule.

Instead, applicants will be able to check a “declined to answer” box on the marriage application form, a spokesman from Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said Sunday.

State clerks were notified of the change in a memo late Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“The statute plainly requires a question about race be asked,” Herring said in the memo to Division of Vital Records Director and State Registrar Janet Raine. “But no provision of the statute expressly requires the couple to identify their race or says what happens if they decline to do so.”

He said any statute requiring a government official to deny a marriage license to an applicant for not disclosing their race raises “serious constitutional questions.”

The decision to alter the application form comes after three couples filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia, calling the statute unconstitutional and “reflective of a racist past.”

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