‘Witness for Marriage’ Shines Light on Lack of Equality
About 50 people gathered in front of the Richmond John Marshall Court House Building today in a demonstration to support same-sex marriage. The event, ‘Witness for Marriage,’ was celebrated for the 9th year in a row. Religious and political groups helped organize the event – with similar events taking place in four other major cities across the state.
“We are gathering, once again, for the justice of the right to marry in the Commonwealth of Virginia” said Reverend Jeanne Pupke of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond. “It is unfortunate that our county clerk… will only have to receive our applications (for marriage) because he is not allowed for justice to come forward.”
Virginia is one of many states that does not have legal same-sex marriage, and the commonwealth has actually gone a step further to put a constitutional ban on recognizing any unions besides marriage between a man and a woman. The Marshall Newman amendment, which codified this language, was signed into law after being placed on the ballot in 2006. It won with 57% of the votes.
Surovell speaking at the press conference
Attempts to remove the amendment have been in the works every General Assembly session since it’s inception, however those attempts have always stalled. During this years GA, Del. Scott Surovell tried to pass legislation to repeal the law, but it failed to make it out of a House subcommittee. Surovell spoke about his frustration with the repeal’s failure at a press conference before the Witness for Marriage demonstration. “Marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make life long promises to each other… I think denying that opportunity to people… just because they’re gay, is hurtful. It’s not for me, or a judge, or a state to deny them that opportunity, that right.”
Public opinion in Virginia around same-sex marriage has changed in the years since Marshal Newman’s passage. According to a September 2012 Washington Post poll, 49% of Virginians support the issue.
From Left: Del. Krupika (D-45), Sen. Ebbin (D-30), Del. Kory (D-38), Del. Carr (D-69), Del. Surovell (D-44), Del. Keam (D-35) all spoke in support of same-sex marriage
The crowd in front of the Court House was excited to be able to show their support – allies and members of the LGBTQ community stood together, clad in yellow “Standing on the side of love” t-shirts. “Standing on the side of Love is an organization connected to the First Unitarian Universalist Church. Leigh Ann Luscin, a Richmond Native and FUU member, came out to aid LGBT couples in their fight and brought her 2 small children along. “I just want them to be able to be whoever they want to be, and love whoever they want to love,” said Luscin.
Luscin and her children
Part of the event involved committed LGBT couples trying to actually apply for marriage licenses. While some couples have come year after year to make the attempt, Danya Rosales and Tina Hurley came from Hampton, Virginia, for the first time this year, and took part in the attempt to get a license. “We stood for what we think is right, and hopefully some day Virginia will give us what’s right.” said Rosales after they left the court-house.
Danya and Tina
Rosales surprised Hurley with the 70 mile trip to Richmond to take part in the event. “It’s Valentines Day, so it was my way of telling her how much I love her and how committed I am to her.”
Though Rosales and Hurley, like the rest of the couples who were denied marriage licenses, said they were glad to take part in the event. “I hope they keep doing it, cause we’ll keep coming.”
Rev. Robin Gorsline lead closing comments
Ted Heck, a name familiar to many trans and LGBQ community members, will speak at April’s Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays meeting. Heck serves as the contract administrator for HIV prevention grants and as the transgender services coordinator at the Virginia Health Department. In addition, he edits and produces the Virginia Transgender Resource and [...]April 5, 2017
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