Virginia legislators push bills to remove same-sex marriage ban from state law and constitution
Even though same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia, several laws remains on the books banning the practice, but some legislators are hoping to change that.
Virginia technically has three bans against same-sex marriage currently in place – two in the state code with one dating back to 1975 dealing with marriage and one from 2004 dealing with civil unions, and one in the state’s constitution (section 15-A), approved by popular vote in 2006.
The practice was made legal last month after the Supreme Court refused to hear any challenges to state bans.
While some might question the need to remove language from the books while the practice is legal, James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, said this was a step in the process of “cleaning up” the state’s code.
“Now that Virginia has gained the freedom to marry, the next steps are to update the Code of Virginia to reflect this new reality, and to allow Virginia voters – the majority of whom believe in marriage equality – to vote to repeal the discriminatory ban on marriage,” said Parrish in a statement. “We hope to see support on these bills from both sides of the aisle during session.”
A Sept. 2014 Pew poll found 48% of Americans support same-sex marriage, and 41% opposed.
In the 2015 General Assembly session, Delegates and Senators will work to remove the language from both the constitution and the state code,
Del. Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria), Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston), Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke), Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston), Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) are among the many members of the House and Senate hoping to strike the ban from Virginia’s law books.
Similar attempts to remove the laws have failed in the past as republican dominated committees often killed the bills before they had a chance to get a floor vote.
Last year, Del Surovell (top picture) and 8 other elected officials proposed bills removing the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but the General Assembly decided to hear no amendments because of Virginia’s procedures when dealing with the state’s constitution.
A bill must pass both the House and the Senate over two years separated by an election cycle, and then the bill must be put to a referendum. Because the next election in Virginia wont be until 2016, even if an amendment passed last year, it would have to survive two more years.
This year, however, should allow for constitutional amendments to go forward.
Surovell’s 2014 bill aiming to remove the language from the state’s code was killed by the Courts of Justice committee.
Delegate Krupicka, who’s put forth a bill hoping to overturn the state’s constitutional ban, said his efforts aim to make Virginia more equal and fair.
“Virginia has a long history of using marriage as a tool to harm religious, ethnic and other minority groups, said Krupicka in a statement. “We need to take away the legislature’s ability to use marriage as a tool discriminate against minority groups.”
In a statement, Va Governor Terry McAuliffe weighed in on removing the codified language saying his administration was eager to see all VA’s laws, regulations, and administrative practices updated to reflect legal same-sex marriage in Virginia.
McAuliffe said he “has asked administrative agencies to identify needed changes across state government to comply with this historic decision, and expects to work with the General Assembly to make changes to Virginia law as necessary.”
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