Virginia continues to only allow marriage between a man and a women after a subcommittee stacked with republican members killed a constitutional amendment hoping to remove the limiting language from the state’s code.
Delegate Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) introduced the amendment (HJ665), which would have removed the 2007 Marshall-Newman amendment that states “… only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions…” Surovell said removing this language was the right thing to do – “I think marriage is about two people who love each other, making a life long commitment to each other, and I think its hateful to deny that because of sexual orientation.”
Sorovell admitted the amendment was unlikely to pass, but he said it was a matter of fighting for whats right, and carrying the torch for his former colleague Delegate Englin, who had worked to remove the language in the past, but has since retired from the GA.
Beyond the moral choice involved in banning civil unions and same-sex marriages, Sorovell said future Supreme Court decisions could further isolate VA in its opposition. If SCOTUS overturns any of the gay marriage bans this year, Virginia will lag in its ability to amend its constitution. Constitutional amendments, using the same language, are required to pass the GA twice, and survive an election cycle. This would mean, even if the 2014 GA passes the amendment, the language would not be removed until 2016.
Additionally, Sorovell said the lack of equality will continue to hurt businesses in Virginia. As multi-national corporations and the like improve their diversity policies, the state continues its policy of non-exceptance. “We’re losing economic opportunity and quality people,” Said Sorovell, “… because we continue to codify hate in our laws. It’s the wrong thing to do on a number of levels.”
Equality Virginia was there for the subcommittee meeting, but was not surprised by the amendments failure. “While the tide is turning across the nation in favor of marriage equality, it’s sad to see that Virginia cannot catch up to even recognize loving couples.” Said EV’s Executive Director James Parrish via e-mail. But they have not given hope on Virginia yet. “There is an opportunity this fall to make sure we are voting pro-equality candidates into the House of Delegates and make sure they are hearing us on LGBT issues.”