Clergy from across Northern Virginia gathered outside the Arlington County Courthouse on Thursday to protest the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban.
“We are here this morning to say it is long past time to change the law,” Rev. David Ensign of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church said.
Rev. Amber Nueroth of Hope United Church of Christ in Alexandria led a litany in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision that found state bans on interracial marriages unconstitutional as he spoke to the dozens of people who gathered outside the courthouse.
“Do we want Virginia to be on the back of the bus again when it comes to marriage equality,” he asked. “So let’s see if we can Virginia to the front of the bus this time.”
Rabbi Lia Bass of Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington read a prayer. She further noted that Rabbi Leila Gal Berner of Congregation Kol Ami in Annandale also supports marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Let us pray that soon the state of Virginia will understand love is love and that the right to marry should be afforded to every child of God,” she said
The Arlington rally is one of five gatherings against Virginia’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban that voters approved in 2006 that took place across the commonwealth. The others occurred in Charlottesville, Hampton, Richmond and Winchester.
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee last month killed a bill sponsored by state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) that would have repealed the Marshall-Newman Amendment.
Jan Canterbury and Nadia Malley of Arlington were among the three same-sex couples who unsuccessfully applied for marriage licenses outside the courthouse.
“We’re hoping that the culture will change, even here in Virginia,” Canterbury, who has been with Malley for 14 years, told the Washington Blade after Arlington County Clerk Paul Ferguson rejected their application. “We want to take a stand on behalf of our love and for our equal rights.”
Tom Nichols and Dan Chaddurn of Falls Church also sought a Virginia marriage license. The couple tied the knot later in the day in D.C. on what would have been Chaddurn’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.
“We would love to get married in Virginia,” Nichols said. “It feels so ridiculously insane that we can go five miles across the river in either direction to Maryland or D.C. right now and have the right to get married and still not in Virginia.”