With marriage equality in our rear view mirror, what’s next?
Earlier this week, Virginia made history . . . for the right reasons.
On Monday, October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages Virginia, along with four other states (Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana), by declining to hear appeals from those five states that sought to prohibit gay and lesbian unions.
The justices did not comment in rejecting the same-sex marriage appeals. In addition to immediately ending delays on marriage in those five states, the Court’s order should be able to grant same-sex couples in six other states the right to marry in short order.
Richmond’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate Monday afternoon, and using the same documents generated back in August before SCTOUS stayed the ruling, LGBT Richmonder’s were able to get married.
Lindsey Oliver, 30, and Nicole Pries, 42, became the first same-sex couple in the Commonwealth to receive a marriage license from the Richmond Circuit Court Clerk’s office shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.
The Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, a gay-rights advocate and head of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, married the couple upon leaving the courthouse. The new marriage licenses contain spaces for spouse and spouse instead of bride and groom.
Speaking to a crowd gathered outside of the John Marshall Courts Building later Monday afternoon, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said clerks are required to issue marriage licenses to any couple that seeks one, without discrimination or hesitation. Furthermore, same-sex marriages performed outside of the Commonwealth will be fully recognized under the Constitution’s Full Faith & Credit Clause.
As Mr. Herring stated, “This is a tremendous moment in Virginia history. We will continue to fight discrimination wherever we find it, but today, we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality ignited centuries ago in Virginia, and so central to the American experience.”
Marriage equality allows same-sex partners in Virginia to be treated as equals under the law and effectively extends protections ranging from the adoption of children and insurance benefits to rights of survivorship and the filing of taxes.
However, LGBT professionals in Virginia continue to face economic inequalities in the workplace, including:
- Bias and discrimination in recruitment and hiring;
- On-the-job inequality, harassment and unfairness;
- Wage gaps and penalties; and,
- Legal termination based solely on an employee’s LGBT identity.
As we move forward, Virginia, let’s celebrate the momentous victory that we as a community have achieved.
Let us come together and rejoice in the fact that loving couples, like Lindsey and Nicole, can enjoy all the rights and privileges (and responsibilities) of marriage in our great Commonwealth.
Let us raise our glasses in revelry and jubilation for a historic triumph long overdue.
However, let us not forget that there is still much work to be done in Virginia. As the marriage equality narrative draws to a close, a new chapter in the ongoing conversation about equality for Virginia’s LGBT community is just beginning—that of economic equality.
As James Carville famously said in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential election, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
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