January 13, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Efforts to repeal Virginia marriage amendment blocked

Adam Ebbin, Alexandria, Virginia, Senate, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) in November introduced a resolution that sought to repeal a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Virginia lawmakers this year will not consider proposed resolutions that sought to repeal the state’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

State Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), chair of the Virginia House of Delegates Privileges and Elections Committee, on Jan. 9 announced it will not hear any so-called first reference constitutional amendments during the 2014 legislative session. He said his committee will instead consider them next year.

“Virginia Republicans refusal to even consider same-sex marriage is backwards and proving increasingly archaic,” said state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) in a Monday press release that announced Cole’s decision. “Marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other, in good times and bad.”

A House subcommittee last year killed Surovell’s proposed resolution that sought to repeal the marriage amendment that Virginia voters approved by a 57-43 percent margin in 2006. The Fairfax County Democrat on Jan. 8 introduced a bill that would repeal the commonwealth’s statutory ban on marriages and civil unions for same-sex couples.

“Virginians are ready to repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment,” said gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) earlier on Monday during a Richmond press conference at which state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), state Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County), Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish and Rev. Robin Gorsline of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia discussed their 2014 legislative priorities. “This unfair and discriminatory law denies loving couples the chance to build a life together, throwing up burdens that straight couples never have to face.”

The Richmond press conference took place two days after Gov. Terry McAuliffe took office.

The former Democratic National Committee chair on Saturday signed an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT state employees.

McAuliffe, Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples. It remains unclear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban in two federal lawsuits that challenge it.

Other 2014 legislative priorities for LGBT rights advocates include McEachin’s bill that would ban discrimination against state employees based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The Henrico County Democrat has also introduced a measure that would allow public colleges and universities and municipalities to offer benefits to their employees’ same-sex partners.

“Discrimination is wrong, and we should be doing more to prevent it,” said McEachin on Monday.

State Dels. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) and Ron Villanueva (R-Virginia Beach) have introduced measures that would ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in the commonwealth. Simon and state Del. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County) have also proposed bills that seek to add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the Virginia Fair Housing Law.

Yost and state Del. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) have introduced bills in their respective chambers that would extend second-parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians. Hope on Monday formally put forth a measure that would ban so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in Virginia.

Cole did not immediately return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

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

5 Comments
  • Janet Howell is a State Senator. Please correct.

  • It is so sad that Virginia has such backward people in office. The Senator from my area is just a backward hillbilly that hates people who do not agree with him of course he was a Democrat until he found it would be more useful to him to be a Republican. Tells me he is just interested in himself. LIKE MOST GREEDY SELFISH TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS. But then the civil rights law was signed into law in 1964, and to get Virginia to stop discriminating against people of color on marriage rights they had to go to the Supreme Court. Loving vs. Virginia!!!!! So sad Virginians have so much hate in their heart for people who are different.

  • It's encouraging that are such good people in office as proven by this article who are offering decent ideas for consideration. Who knows what the future holds for LGTs in VA.

    Anything is possible, VA's neighbor MD is proof that anythings is possible. Inspite of so much religious opposition amongst large African American communities in various MD counties and cities, MD marriage equality did finally pass in November, 2012 and was in legal effect in January 1, 2013.
    I know Virginians with love in their hearts. Not all Virginians are as bad as you say. And VA finally has a governor and an atty. general who support marriage equality. But marriage equality may depend in part on VA's state assembly losing enough antigay legislators over the next couple of years. Support for marriage equality may be growing in VA, but VA is a conservative state and likely is not ready for marriage equality this year. But as more young people reach adulthood over the next few years in VA, that could change in our favor. Marriage equality is gradually making its way even to politically conservative red states like UT and OK.
    VA could be on the horizon for marriage equality in another 2 or 3 years or so.

  • My so called father in law and mother in law live in a very rural and backwards county in va where he is in county government. They do not accept our marriage and treat us and our children as second class citizens. NOVA is supposed to be educated and forward thinking I would have expected this from the rural and uneducated counties in VA

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