Monday, February 8, 2010

VA Delegate Tries Again for Repeal of Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Delegate David Englin, D-Alexandria

According to the Gainesville (VA) Times, Delegate David Englin, D-Alexandria, wants Virginia to repeal its constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

He says the amendment, which voters approved four years ago, is unfair to gay and lesbian couples. So he’s trying for the third time to repeal it.

“If we are to take our founding values seriously, where we say that every human being deserves equal treatment under the law, then we cannot enshrine in the Constitution a policy that boils down to nothing but bigotry,” Englin said.

In the 2006 general election, 57 percent of voters supported amending the Virginia Constitution to say:

•Marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
•Virginia will not recognize “a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.”
•Nor will the state recognize “another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”

To repeal that amendment, Englin is sponsoring House Joint Resolution 55. It is similar to proposals he carried in 2007 and 2009. They did not get much attention, but Englin says he won’t give up.

HJ 55, which is being co-sponsored by Delegate L. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, has been referred to the House Privileges and Elections Committee. The panel has not voted on the measure.

Equality Virginia, an advocacy organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians, hopes the resolution will pass. However, the group knows that it may be a long-term struggle to persuade Virginia to recognize relationships other than a marriage between a man and a woman.
“To deny not only all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples that, but all straight couple who, for whatever, don’t have the right to marry as well, is a massive injustice that we won’t tolerate in Virginia,” said Jon Blair, chief executive officer of Equality Virginia.

Opposing the resolution is the Family Foundation of Virginia, whose mission is to protect “traditional values” and to “establish a Commonwealth of families who are guided by faith and protected by a principled government.”

Chris Frend, vice president of the Family Foundation, predicted that Englin’s resolution will be defeated as it was in previous years.

“We’re only three years removed from nearly 60 percent of Virginians voting to support the amendment, and we’re two months removed from an election where three of the elected (statewide officials) were advocates for the amendment,” Frend said. “I think the overwhelming majority of Virginians have no interest in revisiting this issue.”

He was referring to the election last November of Bob McDonnell as governor and Ken Cuccinelli as attorney general and the re-election of Bill Bolling as lieutenant governor.

Five states allow same-sex marriages – New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. Washington, D.C., also has approved a law supporting same-sex marriage.

To repeal the 2006 constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, Englin’s resolution first must be passed by a majority of the House and Senate. Then, after a legislative election, it must be approved again by the General Assembly. Finally, the proposal would go to voters in a statewide election.

Englin, who served a dozen years in the Air Force and now is vice president of a media relations firm, was first elected to the General Assembly in 2005. He represents House District 45, which includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties and part of the city of Alexandria.

To read this article in full, click here.

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