Victory in Vermont, D.C., Iowa, What's Next Virginia?
Yesterday, Roland Winston spent time making long-distance calls to Vermont. He was calling delegates to round up support for what happened today.
In case you haven’t heard the news, Vermont’s state legislature, overrode the Governor’s veto for a two-thirds majority giving marriage equality to same-sex couples. Also this afternoon, the DC Council voted to recognize gay marriages from other states pending approval of the mayor and Congress. Equal rights advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaigns and Equality Virginia, and grassroots efforts help keep the community’s voices in the forefront of lawmaker’s minds.
Winston is one of the organizers of Richmond’s Join The Impact group and is working on getting the community involved. Join the Impact started late last year as a community organizing tool in cities around the country to engage individuals in getting same-sex marriages legalized.
“There’s the opportunity to move minds and bodies in Virginia,” Winston said.
Join the Impact started a few days after the election when a blogger posted on her personal site that something should be done about the passage of Prop 8 in California. A friend recommended that they set up this site as a grassroots vehicle. In four days, protests were setup for November 15 in over 50 cities including Richmond.
Other protests, like a candlelight vigil held at Charlottesville’s downtown mall in December, have drawn media attention as well. This year, the group co-sponsored a Valentine’s Day gathering held annually by Metropolitan Community Church where same-sex couples go to city hall to apply for marriage certificates. This year was the first the clerk offered to keep applications on file.
In Virginia, Winston said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done through volunteering.
“People need to be able to work the phones and be willing to put a face on the community,” he said. “We need to get existing Democratic delagates to get reelected and gain six seats in the House to turn the Assembly blue. It doesn’t mean we have the majority to pass it, but we would have Democratic support.”
For Virginia, the 2006 Marriage Amendment not only strictly defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages from other states, but also rejected common law marriages.
A measure to repeal the amendment, Bill HJ657, was created by David Englin and presented in the state legislature, but was dissolved in committee. Now, to strike the amendment, a resolution authorizing repeal must be put on the ballot and passed twice by two General Assembly’s separated by one General Assembly election with a new Assembly in place the second go-round. Then, it must also win the ballot in the general election. Winston hopes that grassroots efforts can make this impact.
“The events in California stirred anxiety and anger,” Winston said. “With what’s happened in Vermont and Iowa, the fire can’t just go out.”
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