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April 23, 2014

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Judge in gay marriage case difficult to pigeonhole

Updated Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 | 7:17 a.m.

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The judge deciding what could become a landmark gay marriage case in Virginia defies easy characterization.

U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen was a prosecutor and a public defender. Liberals may like that the 53-year-old was appointed by President Barack Obama, while conservatives may like her years of service as a Navy officer and as a no-nonsense prosecutor.

She has been on the federal bench for less than three years and is now overseeing the highest-profile case of her judicial career: a lawsuit seeking to overturn Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors praise her as smart and open-minded and say her breadth of experience makes her difficult to pigeonhole.

At Tuesday's hearing, Wright Allen did not tip her hand, promising only that she would rule soon.