First same-sex marriage related bill dies in VA Senate committee (expectedly)
Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30, top image) has been working to update the language in the state code, removing language banning same-sex marriage, and a bill submitted this year hoping to accomplish that was passed by indefinitely today.
These laws are different than the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the 2006 voter approved Marshall Newman Amendment, but the first measure, 45.2, is interesting because it has the distinction of being one of the first bans on same-sex marriage in the nation.
Signed into law in 1975, the statutory (or state law) ban was put into place after two men, Richard Baker and James McConnell, tried to get married in a Minnesota court. While there was no state law prohibiting the union of two people of the same sex, they were denied a marriage license and their case was dismissed by an Appeals court which considering marriage to be defined as a union between two people of different sexes.
After the Baker case, several states - Maryland in 1973; Virginia in 1975; and Florida, California New Hampshire and Wyoming in 1977 – all passed statutory bans on same-sex marriage. Other states followed in the wake of the Federal DOMA law which banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage in the mid 90′s.
It wasn’t until 2013 when United States v. Windsor overturned the federal ban. Then, in 2015, Obergefell v. Hodges recognized same-sex marriage bans violated the equal protections and due process sections of the 14th Amendment. This ruling overturned state bans nation wide.
Ebbin’s bill is believed to have been tabled this morning as it is the last remaining LGBTQ-bill from the 2016 session which still sits before the Codes Comission, a GA committee that meets in the summer to examine legislation dealing with language in the state code. Bills before the Codes Comission are tabled until they’re sent back. James Parrish of Equality Virginia said today’s vote was expected, though a clean, or passable, version of the bill is expected to be presented in 2018 instead.
Many pro and anti-LGBTQ bills were sent to the Codes Comission last year, usually considered a legislative graveyard that allows elected officials to skip having a recorded vote on a complicated issue. You can read more about the Code Comission move last year here.
Sen. Ebbin did not respond to comment but this story will be updated if and when GayRVA hears back.
Bills to over turn Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage- – HJ538 by Del. Sickles in the House and SJ216 by Ebbin in the Senate – are still set to be heard in the coming weeks. It will be imperative for these bills to pass this year as constitutional amendments must be voted on twice, divided by a Gubernatorial election. If either bill does not succeed this year, we’ll have to wait till 2021.
If both the constitutional and the statutory bans are not removed, there is a feasible path to undoing same-sex marriage court decisions if President Trump appoints a second Supreme Court Judge.
“I’m not letting his misogyny define me, define my daughter or define my community.”April 21, 2017
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