Virginia’s elected officials and couples stand up for marriage equality on Valentine’s DayBreaking News, Top Highlights Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Today, gay and lesbian couples gathered in five communities across Virginia to Witness for Marriage. In Arlington, Charlottesville, Hampton, Richmond and Winchester, these couples were joined by affirming faith leaders and applied for marriage licenses. Marriage between gay and lesbian couples is currently not legal in Virginia and relationships are not recognized because of the 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment.
At the beginning of this year’s General Assembly, Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) introduced HJ 665, a resolution that was the necessary first step toward repealing the Marshall-Newman amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that denies all relationship recognition to gay and lesbian couples. This resolution was tabled and therefore killed in committee, not even bringing the issue to a floor vote.
At a press conference this morning in Richmond, seven elected officials stood in support for marriage equality and efforts to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment: Del. Scott Surovell, Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Kaye Kory, Del. Betsy Carr, Del. Rob Krupika, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Mark Keam.
“As the defeat of SB701 on Tuesday evening shows, here in Virginia we are still fighting for the basic rights of workplace protections let alone relationship recognition,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said. “With the current makeup of the Virginia House of Delegates – our present company excluded – Equality Virginia sees great hurdles to the removal of the Marshall-Newman Amendment but that doesn’t mean we will stop fighting for what is right for gay and lesbian couples across the commonwealth.”
“This amendment didn’t prevent me from getting married two years ago, but it did make me have to leave Virginia to do it, much like Mildred and Richard Loving had to do fifty years ago…” John Sternlicht said. “This Amendment does not prevent people from being gay, nor does it prevent gay people from getting married – they just have to do it elsewhere. What all these laws do legally is limit our economic rights and make our marriages financially and legally unequal in every way: taxes, inheritance, insurance, hospital visitation, joint property, spousal immunity, and a thousand other rights.”
Sternlicht’s partner James Finley recently accepted a position at Seattle University as head volleyball coach. Finley suspected his contract was terminated from Virginia Commonwealth University last year because he is an openly gay man. The couple’s new home state of Washington recently won marriage equality by a ballot measure.
“The best and the brightest, whether gay or straight, often choose to live in a diverse, open, welcoming, vibrant society,” Sternlicht added. “Whether gay or straight, Virginia just keeps proving herself backwards and hateful by enacting its prejudices into law.”
“I can say confidently that the day is coming when legal marriage will be available to all Virginians. That constitutional provision will be overturned—by the voters,” Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia said. “History is always, ultimately, ‘standing on the side of love.’ The tide of love will wash out the stain of hate and ignorance.”
While close-minded voices in Virginia are loud, these religious voices are rising in unison and speaking with love in support of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.
“Feb. 14 is celebrated by many as a day to get married. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, gay and lesbian couples are still denied this right. This is unconscionable, and we urge all Virginians to stand together in support of marriage equality.” Victoria Bragunier, Director of Alliance for Progressive Values, added.
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