May 23, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Young Virginia Democrats endorse marriage equality

The Virginia Young Democrats pointed to what they described as President Barack Obama's leadership on marriage rights for same-sex couples in their resolution in support of the issue.

The Virginia Young Democrats on Tuesday announced that its Executive Committee passed a resolution in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The statement refers to marriage as a “powerful and important affirmation of love and commitment” and “a source of social support and recognition” that provides “invaluable” legal protections to Virginia families. The resolution also specifically refers to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision that struck down the ban on interracial marriages.

It also calls upon the state Democratic Party to add marriage rights for same-sex couples to its 2012 platform.

“We should not live in a country or commonwealth that discriminates against someone or limits their rights because of who they are.” said VAYD President Isaac Sarver.

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) welcomed the group’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“I’m glad that it is on their radar,” he told the Blade.

The VAYD announced its support of marriage rights for same-sex couples three days after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s National Board of Directors issued a similar endorsement during its quarterly meeting in Miami. Sarver told the Blade that his organization’s position follows what he described as the leadership that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden showed when they publicly endorsed nuptials for gays and lesbians earlier this month.

He further stressed that the resolution could bolster efforts to overturn the constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman that Virginia voters approved in 2006.

“As more and more millennials are aging and starting to vote more frequently, the opinion is shifting,” said Sarver. “Our generation has stronger views on marriage equality than preceding generations so I do think this will be the start of a political shift.”

The VAYD resolution also comes against the backdrop of the ongoing controversy over the House of Delegates rejection of gay Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination to the General District Court. Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) said the former Navy pilot “misrepresented” himself by not disclosing his sexual orientation when he enlisted in 1992—the year before then-President Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that the six Richmond Circuit Court judges could move to appoint Thorne-Begland on an interim basis because lawmakers did not fill the vacancy. State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico,) who sponsored Thorne-Begland’s nomination in the state Senate, told the Blade on Monday that the former Equality Virginia board member continues to decline to comment on the vote and the subsequent fallout.

When asked about whether the controversy played a role in the resolution, VAYD spokesperson James Lewis accused Marshall of essentially using Thorne-Begland’s military service against him to keep the prosecutor off the bench.

“He [Thorne-Begland] was in a position where he wasn’t ruling on significant constitutional matters,” he said.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

2 Comments
  • Thanks. This is terrific news … and reporting. The Blade’s coverage of Virginia LGBT politics is much appreciated by the Commonwealth’s LGBT residents. We are everywhere. Virginia is no exception.

    In addition to its more well-known progressive areas, the DC burbs of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, Charlottesville, Roanoke and Blacksburg, LGBT residents dot the more conservative landscapes of Albemarle, Nelson and Amherst counties and cities like Lynchburg and Danville. Even the departed Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University has a number of LGBT students.

    So keep the Blade’s VA politics coverage coming. For many of VA’s LGBT residents, it is the closest source they have to objective LGBT news in their state.

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