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Virginia

Va. Senate approves marriage amendment repeal resolution

Adam Ebbin’s proposal passed with bipartisan support

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate on Monday approved a resolution that seeks to repeal a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The resolution that state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced passed by a 25-14 vote margin. The openly gay Alexandria Democrat in a tweet noted Republicans supported it.

“My proposed constitutional amendment to repeal the defunct same-sex marriage ban has passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 25-14,” said Ebbin. “It is time our constitution reflects the law of the land and the values of our society.”

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly in 2021 approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

The state Senate last month approved Ebbin’s Senate Bill 1096 that would affirm marriage equality in Virginia law.

Democrats currently control the chamber by a 22-18 margin. Republicans have a 51-47 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.

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Virginia

Former Log Cabin Republicans executive director named to Va. LGBTQ+ Advisory Board

R. Clarke Cooper ‘proud to accept’ Youngkin’s appointment

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R. Clarke Cooper (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has named former Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper to the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

“Proud to accept appointment from Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve on the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board,” wrote Cooper in a post on his LinkedIn page. “Every citizen of the commonwealth has God given inalienable rights, envoys individual liberty and is charged with individual responsibility.”

“May Virginians judge our neighbors on the content of their character, not by their sexual orientation,” he added.

Youngkin announced Cooper’s appointment on March 10.

Cooper, an Army Reserve officer who served in the Iraq War, as Log Cabin Republicans’ executive director from 2010-2012. 

He was Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2019-2021. Cooper is currently a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

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Virginia

Va. education superintendent resigns

Jillian Balow tenure coincided with proposed revisions to trans, nonbinary student guidelines

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Jillian Balow (Public domain photo via Virginia Department of Education)

The Virginia Department of Education’s Superintent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow resigned last week.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last January appointed Balow, who had previously been Wyoming’s State Superintent for Public Education, to the position before he took office.

The Washington Post reported Balow in her March 1 resignation letter said she was “grateful and humbled” to have been appointed. Youngkin, for his part, thanked Balow for “her work in advancing the governor’s education agenda to empower parents and restore excellence in education.”

Youngkin last September announced plans to revise the guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules late last year voted to formally object to Youngkin’s proposal that has yet to be implemented.

The Post noted Balow during her tenure faced questions over efforts to revise Virginia’s history and social studies curriculum standards, among other things.

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Virginia

All 12 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced during Va. legislative session die

Democrat-controlled state Senate blocked all measures

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session ended on Saturday without any of the 12 anti-LGBTQ bills that lawmakers introduced becoming law.

Republican lawmakers introduced measures that would have, among other things, banned transgender athletes from school teams that correspond with their gender identity and would have required school personnel to out trans students to their parents. Other bills sought to ban transition-related health care for minors in the state.

All of the measures died in the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate.

“This session, 12 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the Virginia legislature targeted young people — specifically trans and nonbinary youth — further stigmatizing them at home, at school and in their communities. Schools should be safe spaces for all youth, and especially those who may face discrimination or feel singled out because of who they are. But, we saw a groundswell of opposition to these bills. We saw everyday Virginians show up in fierce opposition to all twelve bills and send a message that hate is not a Virginia value,” Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman told the Washington Blade on Monday in a statement. “To the trans youth in the commonwealth, I want to say: You are loved, you are perfect just the way you are, you are beautiful and you are worthy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. While we have a long way to go to make our schools more equitable places for all youth, defeating these bills is a big deal.” 

The Virginia House Amendment and Other Matters Subcommittee on Feb. 17 tabled state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution that sought to repeal the state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The openly gay Alexandria Democrat’s bill that would have made affirmed marriage equality in Virginia did not advance in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.

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