Connect with us

Local

Va. lawmakers kill proposal to repeal gay marriage ban

HJ665 would have repealed the Marshall-Newman amendment passed in 2006

Published

on

Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade
James Parrish, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Monday voted 6-1 to kill a proposal that would have repealed the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Delegate Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) introduced HJ665 on Jan. 9, the first day of the current legislative session. He told the Washington Blade after the vote he feels “people affirming their love to each other and living in committed relationships is a universal human right.”

“It’s a civil right,” Surovell said. “I don’t think that the constitution should prohibit the government from recognizing people’s love and commitment to each other solely because of their sexual orientation. I think it’s wrong and it’s hateful.”

Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria,) who is among the more than two dozen legislators who co-sponsored HJ665, expressed disappointment that the House Privileges and Elections Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee killed the proposal.

“Virginia is going to have to re-visit this issue either because the public demands it, because we are forced to by the Supreme Court or because corporations make it clear that they’d rather move to D.C. or Maryland in order to protect their employees,” he told the Blade in a statement. “Marshall-Newman is so broadly worded, that it puts even basic contracts in question. Ultimately, I’d like us to be talking about an amendment to add marriage freedom to our constitution. But as today’s action shows, we have work to do to even allow for basic contract rights between two people.”

Delegate David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) agreed.

“I did not support the Marshall-Newman amendment when it passed and believe the time is now for it to be repealed,” he said.

Virginians in 2006 approved the amendment by a 57-43 percent margin.

A similar ban passed in neighboring North Carolina in May by a 61-39 percent margin.

Maryland is among the nine states and D.C. that allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot. Lawmakers in Delaware, Rhode Island, Illinois and New Jersey are expected to debate same-sex marriage proposals in the coming weeks.

“We’re deeply disappointed that the House committee has voted to overlook this resolution that would repeal Marshall-Newman,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said. “It’s a shame that Virginia cannot catch up with a wave of national change since marriage equality is now a winning issue on the ballot.”

Surovell conceded to the Blade he was “not optimistic going into” today’s hearing in spite of public opinion polls that indicate growing public support for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Virginia since voters approved the Marshall-Newman amendment. He referenced the House of Delegates’ vote last May against gay prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination to the Richmond General Court to further prove his point.

The Richmond General Court in June appointed Thorne-Begland on an interim basis because lawmakers failed to fill the vacancy — his term is slated to end at the end of next month if legislators do not approve his appointment. Members of the General Assembly Committee of Judicial Appointments are schedule to interview Thorne-Begland later today.

“I suspect that the only thing that will change whether this [SJ665] eventually passes is the change in control of the House of Delegates because the current majority is beholden to the Family Foundation,” Surovell said. “Last year I had a surreal evening when at 1 a.m. on the last day of session I’m sitting there watching my body debate whether a 14-year decorated naval aviator who’s been putting away murderers for five years is qualified to be a judge presiding over traffic tickets because he happened to live in a committed same-sex relationship with children while the Family Foundation sits in the balcony watching the whole thing. I thought there was something wrong with that. That’s the way it is in Virginia right now.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Joe Ridky

    January 15, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Not surprised. In Virginia if you take away Northern Virginia and the Tidewater area, what do you have left? Mississippi!

  2. Brice Robert Kohler

    January 15, 2013 at 4:38 am

    "Virginia is for Lovers" only if we approve of it then vote and pass a bill saying it's OK.

  3. brian

    January 15, 2013 at 6:51 am

    “Virginia is going to have to re-visit this issue either because the public demands it, because we are forced to by the Supreme Court or because corporations make it clear that they’d rather move to D.C. or Maryland in order to protect their employees,” he told the Blade in a statement. “

    **********
    For sure, decisions by the Supreme Court (less than 6 months from now), future executive action by the president, plus relocating employers fearful of competition for (and potential discrimination lawsuits by) its high-tech, educated workforce will beat, by a long mile, any serious political action for LGBTs likely to come out of Richmond’s GOP wackos.

    Still, public opinion continues to improve all across Virginia, even now, as more LGBT natives come out and new LGBT arrivals create emerging local realities. Aging, out of touch Richmond legislative committee members don’t see those changes, nor do they care to see them.

    Delegate Krupicka’s comment is really spot on. Most Virginians– and most of both parties, I think– take the view that what’s bad for business is bad for Virginia. When discrimination clearly becomes bad for the Commonwealth’s business climate, especially from federal action, I think things will change very rapidly.

    Even just a SCOTUS strike-down this June of DOMA’s Section 3 will have a profound impact on hastening that whole process. Of course a broad SCOTUS decision in favor of Prop 8 Plaintiff’s position in June, basically affirming Judge Walker’s decision, will sweep aside Virginia’s and all other state constitutional marriage equality bans and state DOMAs.

    In that happy event, Virginia businesses, their lawyers and maybe even crustacean legislators will quickly move to prevent discrimination lawsuits in the workplace, too. On the other hand, if SCOTUS votes for more incremental change, then Virginian’s public opinion will continue to improve, but prevailing for LGBTs a good bit later.

    Even at our most pessimistic, it is hard to imagine– given SCOTUS’ past decisions, its current L/R makeup, as well as Chief Justice Roberts’ surprising left turn on health care reform last term– that the combined outcome of both cases will be anything but a net positive impact for LGBT marriage equality and LGBT workplace discrimination protection efforts across the nation.

    LGBT issues aside, Virginia is still looking slightly ‘bluer’. Both of its Democratic U.S. senators are popular. Its new Senator Tim Kane will even likely be a bit more to the left of just-retired Democratic Senator Jim Webb. The bigotry of George Allen’s/ GOP ‘brand’ was decisively rejected by Virginians TWICE in a row– over a six-year time span.

    LGBT population strongholds in Northern Virgina, Richmond and Tidewater continue to grow. Moreover, to the west, aside from its sheer beauty, the Blue Ridge/ US 29 and I-81 corridors– with their strong education bases– have become a noticeable draw for LGBTs migrating to the Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Roanoke/Salem and Blacksburg areas.

    Outside of Richmond’s petty state politics, I think for LGBT Virginians, the Commonwealth is clearly a ‘purpling’ state with a decidedly UP blue trend line going forward.

    • gary47290

      February 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      “Aging, out of touch Richmond legislative committee members don’t see those changes, nor do they care to see them.”

      A lot of those who are out of touch are relatively young. The problem for them and the GOP nationally, is that the electorate is no longer dominated by straight white men and their Stepford wives. We saw this with the overwhelming break in the last election of Asian Americans and Latinoa for Obama. The raw demographics and culture would have suggested they are more sympathetic to the Republicans, but the “straight white men only” platform chased both groups away, and in to the Obama camp.

  4. Doug in Maryland

    January 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    As a former constituent of Delegate Surovell’s I just want to commend him for his efforts. Job well done. I think the LGBT community in Virginia has a friend in Scott!

  5. Will Oliver

    February 9, 2013 at 7:55 am

    It'll come down to the supreme court unfortunately. Why delegates like Bob Marshall keep getting elected is beyond me. But, it's true what Brian said down in the comments below. The state is getting bluer, and warming up to the idea of marriage equality, though our voices seem to fall on deaf ears in the general assembly.

  6. Gary Lindsay

    February 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Instead of wasting millions suing California to overturn prop 8 (which is still necessary), Boies and Olsen should have sued to overturn the Marshall-Newman amendment. This law bans private contracts as well, a prima facie violation of the contracts clause in the US Constitution. Overturning the amendment on such a slam dunk would force Virginia to revisit the debate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local

LULAC Lambda announces 2021 scholarship awards

Castro, Javier Rodriguez win $1,000 honors

Published

on

Brian Castro and Victor Javier Rodriguez are this year’s LULAC award winners.

The D.C.-based LGBTQ Latinx organization LULAC Lambda has announced it has selected two D.C. residents bound for graduate studies in foreign affairs and higher education to receive its 2021 annual scholarship award.

“For a fourth year in a row, LULAC Lambda will provide scholarships to outstanding scholars who come from our LGBTQ+ Latinx community,” said Erik Rodriquez, the LULAC Lambda president, in a statement released by the group. “Our scholarship program will help these scholars achieve their academic goals and reduce their student debt,” Rodriquez said.

The statement says one of the two scholarship awards, for $1,000, will go to Brian Castro, who will begin studies for a master’s degree in the fall of 2021 at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

“The generous scholarship provided by LULAC Lambda will complement my studies by going directly into my tuition costs,” Castro said in the statement. “Though I have been a resident of Washington, D.C., working full-time at a leading public health consulting firm, I am grateful to have received the support from an organization that is also committed to social justice,” he said.

The other scholarship, for $1,300, will go to Victor Javier Rodriguez for his doctoral work in education at Florida State University. The LULAC Lambda statement says Javier Rodriquez’s academic interest lies in “exploring the relationship between school communities and districts’ implementation of anti-racist practice and student success.”

In his own words, Javier Rodriquez said, “A long-term career goal of mine is to affect change at the federal level through the United States Department of Education, in which I would work to address our nation’s education crisis by advocating for equitable policies and practices that improve the outcome for all our students, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

LULAC Lambda says it was founded in October 2014 “to mobilize and strengthen the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities of Washington, D.C. through community and civic engagement.” It is one of 1,000 chapters across the country affiliated with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the nation’s largest and oldest Latinx volunteer-based civil rights organization, the group’s statement says.

Continue Reading

Local

Missing gay man found ‘alive and well’

Police say Richard ‘Rick’ Woods found in good health

Published

on

Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man, was found alive and well.

D.C. police announced on Friday that Richard G. ‘Rick’ Woods, a 65-year-old gay man who police said was reported missing and last seen on July 14, has been located. But the announcement doesn’t provide information on where he was found or why he went missing.

Friends who know Woods say he operated for many years an antique wood furniture restoration business in various locations in D.C. The most recent location of his business, friends said, was in Georgetown a short distance from where police said he was last seen on the 1600 block of Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

“MPD does not publicly disclose the circumstances surrounding a missing person and how they are found, however we do release their flyer as well as a notification when they are located,” said D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Burch. “Mr. Woods was found in good health,” Burch told the Blade.

Police sought help from the public in their initial announcement that Woods was missing. The announcement said he was reported missing to police on Friday, July 23.

Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and LGBTQ rights advocate John Fanning, who said he has been friends with Woods for many years, said he was delighted to hear Woods was found in good condition.

“Rick is known by many in our community,” Fanning told the Blade at the time Woods was reported missing. Fanning said he and others who know Woods stand ready to provide support for him should he be in need of such support.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Woods for comment.

Continue Reading

Local

Some D.C. gay bars to require proof of COVID vaccination

Action prompted by mayor’s order reinstating masks indoors

Published

on

Adams Morgan’s A League of Her Own is among the area queer bars requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

At least six D.C. gay bars announced last week on social media that they will require patrons to show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted to the bars.

They include the Logan Circle area gay bars Number Nine and Trade, which are operated by the same co-owners; the Adams Morgan gay sports bars Pitchers and A League of Her Own, which are also operated by the same owner and share the same building; the 17th Street, N.W. gay bar JR.’s; and the U Street, N.W. gay bar The Dirty Goose.

The six bars, which also offer dining service, announced their proof of vaccination requirement shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday, July 29, issued a new order reinstating the city’s requirement that facial masks be worn inside all businesses and other public establishments.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two. It took effect at 5 a.m. Saturday, July 31.

At a July 29 news conference, Bowser pointed to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued two days earlier recommending that fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where transmission of the coronavirus is considered “substantial” or “high.”

The mayor said that, at the advice of her public health experts, she decided to issue the new order to help curtail the rising number of COVID cases in D.C. over the past month or more due to the rapid spread of the virus’s Delta variant, which is surging throughout the nation. Like other parts of the country, Bowser and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbit said people who are unvaccinated in D.C. make up nearly all of the newly infected cases.

“I know D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said in referring to the new mask requirement.

The four-page order released by the mayor’s office, similar to the city’s earlier mask requirements, allows indoor patrons of restaurants and bars to remove their masks while “actively” eating or drinking.

But some representatives of restaurants and bars have pointed out that other jurisdictions, including Maryland and Virginia, have followed the CDC’s initial policy of making mask wearing a recommendation rather than a requirement.

“Mayor Bowser’s announcement that nightlife hospitality patrons must wear a mask indoors when not ‘actively eating or drinking’ renders the reinstated mandate essentially unenforceable and results in the rule being reduced to a largely theatrical requirement,” said Mark Lee, director of the D.C. Nightlife Council, a local trade association representing bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other nightlife related businesses.

“The greatest disappointment for many venue operators and staff, however, is that the mayor’s decision does not allow an option for establishments to admit only fully vaccinated patrons and be exempt from the mandate, as a number of other jurisdictions across the country have done,” Lee said.

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the bars Trade and Number Nine, told the Washington Blade he and his co-owners adopted the proof of vaccination policy as an added means of protecting the safety of both patrons and employees of the two bars.

“We’re hopeful that this will be in effect for just a few weeks or a month or two,” Guggenmos said. “Our patrons have always been very supportive,” he said in referring to the city’s public health directives last year and early this year in which masks were required up until May of this year.

Guggenmos said Trade and Number Nine would allow an alternative to the vaccination requirement if patrons provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the previous three days of their admission to the bars.

In its social media postings, Pitchers and A League of Her Own said their proof of vaccination requirement was based on the concern for the health of their patrons and staff.

“We will require proof of a COVID vaccination until further notice at Pitchers/ALOHO and masks per the mayor,” a Facebook posting says. “We take guidelines and the health of our patrons and staff very seriously. We will accept a picture or hard copy of your COVID vaccination card,” it says. “No exceptions, no arguing, no talking to the manager.”

Tammy Truong, owner of the gay bar Uproar Lounge at 639 Florida Ave., N.W., told the Blade the bar has no immediate plans to require proof of vaccination as a requirement for admission, but Uproar will fully comply with the mayor’s order requiring indoor masks.

Justin Parker, co-owner of the nearby gay bar The Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W., told the Blade he and his staff decided on July 30 to also put in place a requirement that patrons show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the past five days. He said a five-day window for the COVID test, which the CDC allows in some cases, was chosen rather than a three-day requirement to accommodate people who may not be able to get tested during weekends.

Owners of other D.C. queer bars couldn’t immediately be reached. But the Blade could not find any announcements by the other bars as of Friday afternoon that they planned to put in place a proof of vaccination requirement.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular