Monday was not a great day for those of us engaging the Virginia General Assembly in pursuit of dignity and equality.
Cameron Hunt, Program Director of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia; Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, chief lobbyist for Equality Virginia; and I sat through more than two hours of a meeting of the Constitutional Amendment Subcommittee of the Privileges and Elections Committee, listening to a fascinating discussion on whether Virginia should continue to make it difficult for ex-felons to vote. In legal parlance, this is called “retoration of civil rights.” The subcommittee decided to leave the obstacles in place.
Then, with no real debate, they killed a bill by Delegate David Englin to put repeal of the Marshall-Newman Anti-Marriage Amendment on the ballot in 2012.
That made it 0 for 2 for human dignity on that day. I did not stay to find out if they put the Equal Rights Amendment on the ballot. Somehow, I figured they wouldn’t do that either. Also discouraging was the fact that several of the members seemed more interested in making sure the ex-felons had the right to own a gun than to vote!
But we persevere. As we left the hearing, we, and others, agreed that marriage equality will happen.
And here’s proof that it’s coming. Barbara Bush, daughter of George and Laura Bush has taped a video for the Human Rights Campaign, in which she says, “I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality. . . everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love.”
That’s going to happen in Virginia, too. And the former felons–who have done the prison time for what they did (and in some cases did not do)–will get to vote, too.
Dignity for all God’s children. We’ll get it right yet.
Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline is President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, an interfaith organization of gay and straight clergy and lay people working for equality for LGBT Virginians. Read more of his thoughts on faith and spirituality on his personal blog.