What NY Marriage Equality Means For VA
Friday night, the New York state legislature voted to recognize marriage equality in New York and the governor immediately signed the bill into law.
New York is now the sixth state in the nation to recognize same-sex couples, but what does this mean for Virginia?
In an e-mail by the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, Tiffany M. Joslyn, President of Virginia Partisans PAC, says that it’s motivation to get things moving in the Commonwealth.
“Tonight’s victory in New York brings us one step closer to a nation of equality. To those here in Virginia on the wrong side of history, let this be a lesson – equality will win out and the LGBT Democrats of Virginia will not tire until this battle is won,” Joslyn said. “We ask every Virginian who believes in a just and fair society to stand with us, whether LGBT or Ally, in our fight to keep the Senate Blue this November, to support and elect pro-equality Democrats, and to demonstrate once and for all that bigotry and intolerance has no place in our great Commonwealth.”
James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia says this type of momentum helps other state equality organizations. Will it help Virginia sooner than later?
“Equality Virginia is always excited when the full rights of relationships are offered to more and more people in the LGBT community,” Parrish said. ”It’s a good educational tool. There was a lot of fear mongering especially when Massachusetts adopted same-sex marriage. I think five years later, people have seen that this has not destroyed society.”
In order to take a step in the right direction, the 2006 Marshall-Newman amendment must be overturned. The amendment 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. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Jay Squires, president of the Gay Community Center of Richmond, gave a speech at Saturday’s Equality For All Festival. He says at the most basic level, equality in New York doesn’t mean anything legally in Virginia.
“We’re probably not going to see a change for a while with a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. One day I hope that changes.”
Squires notes that political attitudes must change before that’s possible.
“It will take years before the philosophical balance of the General Assembly is in our favor. Achieving this change in Virginia, legislatively and electorally will be a tough progress.”
As the current of change continues in other areas of the country like Maine and Rhode Island, the spotlight will start to turn to Virginia to be more politically progressive.
On the federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be overturned and the federal government will have to recognize people who are legally married. President Obama already instructed the Department of Justice not to defend cases using the statute.
Squires, says once DOMA is overturned, the government may be forced to setup one set of benefits to same-sex couples legally married in states and same-sex couples that are not. Legally, two sets of rules won’t fly. While marriage as a state issue, federal tax benefits will take equality to the national stage.
“For me, as an attorney, that’s an irreconcilable concept. [Two sets of rules] wouldn’t be allowed to stand by the Supreme Court,” he said. ”You can’t have someone that lives in the New York have a different tax benefit from someone living ten miles away across the border.”
In the meantime, could another locale for same-sex couples to marry mean Virginians will flock to plan roots within the New York borders? Some in the General Assembly would certainly hope so.
Would you move to another state so you and your partner could have marriage equality?
Openly gay legislators rally to remove defunct same-sex marriage bans from Virginia law and constitution
“There are a number of Republicans, even those are against LGBT equality, who do accept that fact that the Virginia state code books should say what is the law and not what isn’t the law…”October 19, 2016
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