Virginia Lawmakers Fail to Repeal Gay Marriage Ban

Legislators join activists, fellow lawmakers in Richmond to call for change.

By Amber Galaviz, Capital News Service 

 State officials joined gay rights activists at a press conference Thursday to discuss their disappointment in Virginia's failure to repeal the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage in this year's General Assembly session.

“I believe that marriage is about loving, committed couples wanting to make lifelong promises to each other – take care of each other, be responsible for each other and support each other,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) said at the event at the General Assembly Building.

“And I think that if anybody – gay, straight – wants to stand up in front of their family and friends and make that commitment to grow old together, it’s not for me, or the judge or the state to deny them that opportunity or that right," he said.

This legislative session, Surovell sponsored House Joint Resolution 665, which sought to rescind the constitutional amendment Virginians approved in November 2006.

That amendment defines marriage as “only a union between one man and one woman” and prohibits the state and local governments from creating or recognizing marriages, unions or similar relationships between couples of the same sex. It was ratified by 57 percent of the vote in a statewide election.

Last month, the Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee of the House Committee on Privileges and Elections recommended that HJ 655 be “passed by indefinitely” – effectively killing it for this legislative session.

Surovell’s resolution was co-sponsored by 22 other House members, all of them Democrats.

On Thursday, several of those lawmakers joined Surovell in support of his efforts, including Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Dels. Mark Keam (D-Vienna) Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church), Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) and Robert Krupicka (D-Alexandria)

Several advocacy groups also on hand —including the Alliance for Progressive Values, People of Faith for Equality, First Unitarian Church of Richmond and GetEQUAL-Virginia — said Virginia’s ban against same-sex unions hurts individuals and the state.

The Metro DC Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) — whose reach, via support groups, extends to several parts of Northern Virginia — told Patch on Friday it shares in the frustration expressed by lawmakers and activists this week in Richmond.

the co-facilitator of the Western Fairfax PFLAG support group, said she wondered "when Virginia plans to come into the 21st Century."

"Indeed the General Assembly, the Governor, and especially the Attorney General continue to deny all sorts of civil rights to our gay and lesbian children and friends," she wrote in an email to Patch.

Lewis said as the mother of a gay son, "this hurts my heart."  

"It is unfair to discriminate against people based on who they love.  Our children live with this discrimination in one way or another every day.  To constitutionally ban same-sex marriage to an entire group of people and deny them the rights of their "straight" counterparts is just wrong.  Someday same-sex marriage will be the norm in this country but Virginia has a long way to go," she said.

With his partner, Jonathan Lebolt, at his side, Rev. Robin Gorsline, a minister with the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond and the president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, said at Thursday's conference Virginia’s laws don’t reflect the real lives of committed same-sex couples.

“We aren’t asking for the right to marry; we’re already married,” Gosline said. “Instead, we’re telling local and state authorities that we want them to catch up and fix their laws.”

Patch editor William Callahan reported for this story.

Carol Lewis February 17, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Shellie, I don't know if your "move if you don't like it" comment was directed at me or not, but if so, I love Virginia and especially love living in Vienna, but hate some of the political stances taken by our elected leaders at the state level. They are narrow-minded, small, bigoted, and sometimes very harsh and nasty and I think we can do a lot better. I will work to change the political climate.
Bob Maistros February 17, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Pray tell, where are you getting this 60 percent divorce rate. The common misconception that half or more of all marriages will end in divorces is based on a statistic fallacy, taking the number of divorces that occur in a given year and dividing it by the number of marriages that take place in that year. But divorces rarely take place in the same year as marriages. Not only that, divorce rates, by the better statistical measurement of number of divorces per 1000 marriages, peaked in the 1980s and have been dropping ever since. In any event, just as you don't strengthen currencies by spreading counterfeits, the way to strengthen real marriage is not to approve fake versions. Calling anything marriage (and same-sex marriage would only open the door for all kinds of arrangements) will only further weaken the institution.
Tracey Zillian February 17, 2013 at 06:57 PM
I am teaching my child to be open-minded and accepting of everyone. That is something you might want to think about, Mira. I'm hopeful that the next generation will replace those in the current generation that thinks being gay is a choice and spreads misinformation about HIV. Where do you learn this stuff or do you just make it up?
Sandra February 17, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Melody, thankfully the world is changing, and eventually Virginia will change too. The younger generation is smart enough to realize that the garbage that many older dinosaurs are spewing is nothing more than discrimination and hatred thinly disguised as religion. Our younger generation is willing to look beyond the facade and seek the truth - and the truth is that love is love, regardless of whether it is between opposite genders or the same sex. I know the change is not coming fast enough, but it is at least coming. Hold on to hope! (And vote against idiots like Cuccinelli). :)
Diana February 17, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Where do I vote NO! Marriage should only be between a man and a women! Period!!
Nora Eldridge February 17, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Diana, Virginia already voted no on this issue, hence the constituional amendment and the legislation introduced in this general assembly session to repeal it.
realtruthhurts February 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM
You are so right .
Mark February 18, 2013 at 01:46 AM
I've lived in Virginia for over 6 decades, please understand this is still a slave state.
Becky Barger-Hart February 18, 2013 at 04:48 AM
Homosexual activists argue that gay“marriage” is a civil rights issue. They are wrong. A man and a woman wanting to marry may be different in their characteristics: one may be black, the other white; one rich, the other poor. None of these differences are insurmountable obstacles to marriage. The two individuals are still man and woman, the requirements of nature are respected. Same-sex “marriage” opposes nature. Two people of the same sex, regardless of race, money, etc. will never be able to marry because of an insurmountable biological impossibility. Same sex “marriage” is intrinsically sterile. If the “spouses” want a child, they must circumvent nature By legalizing same-sex “marriage,” the State becomes its official and active promoter. The State calls on public officials to officiate at the new civil ceremony, orders public schools to teach its acceptability to children, and punishes any state employee who expresses disapproval. In the private sphere, objecting parents will see their children exposed more than ever to this new “morality,”. In every situation where marriage affects society, the State will expect Christians and all people of good will to betray their consciences by condoning, through silence or act, an attack on the natural order and Christian morality. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union. Thank God, yes GOD gay marriage is for now still illegal. No, I'm not a gay hater or bigot or whatever, I just fear God!
OldDaveNJ February 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Becky -- when it comes to civil marriage in the US, there is no fundamental link to procreation. Try again.
Carol Lewis February 18, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Becky, are couples who marry and decide not to have children circumventing "nature" or those who marry too late to have children. This is a silly argument. Your attitudes are indeed anti-gay.
Kim McCoy February 18, 2013 at 08:39 PM
....and by the way, Carol, there are many, many times when "being gay" IS a choice. I happen to know several people who made the "choice".
Kim McCoy February 18, 2013 at 08:40 PM
They say the truth will set you free... 1. The lack of tolerance on the part of the "pro-gay marriage" posters towards Mira for having a differing opinion was astounding. For a bunch of people who "preach" acceptance you showed a terrible lack thereof 2. This is not a civil rights issue. The mere assertion that the state should change the definition of marriage is ridiculous. The state's involvement in licensing marriage is for the sole purpose of permitting one man and one woman to form a union that will reduce their tax burden in return for the prospect of that union producing future tax payers for the necessary growth of the state...period. The state calculates future growth based on statistics that encompass the number of married couple that will statistically produce "x" amount of future tax payers (statistically speaking, that "x" is now represented by 1.86). The states involvement in marriage has nothing to do with religion, equality, or fairness. It is a business decision. Regardless of what you "believe", neither two men nor two women will ever be able to naturally produce offspring , therefore they should not be rewarded the tax break...period. Why should the state allow two men or two women to form a partnership that will benefit from a tax break without any benefit to the state? It makes no sense; the state loses revenue 3. If you want to argue "civil" rights, based on religion, "fairness", or "equality", I would be more than happy to take the opposing position
OldDaveNJ February 18, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Kim -- Straight people sometimes engage in gay sex, to experiment or simply because they are in it strictly for the self-gratification. Some gay people enter into straight relationships/marriages because the social stigma associated with being gay puts them in denial about their sexuality until later in life; such relationships rarely work. Some people DO have a choice when it comes to the gender of the people they are emotionally and sexually attracted to ... but they are called bisexual, which is quite different from being gay. So no ... sexual orientation is not a choice. And while you present a novel variation of the marriage=procreation argument, it doesn't change the fact that civil marriage laws in the US establish no fundamental link between marriage and procreation. The real benefits of civil marriage, and the reason the state supports it through the granting of certain benefits/protections to couples, are the long-recognized relationships between stable marriages and the physical, mental, and emotional health of those in such relationships, as well as of any kids (biological, adopted, etc.) being raised by the couples. Those reasons apply just as strongly to families built around same-gender couples as to those built around straight couples.
Kim McCoy February 18, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Dave...why did you not address the tax issue?
Kim McCoy February 18, 2013 at 09:21 PM
...and Dave, I will have to take issue with your last statement. It has been proven in study after study that children raised in homosexual households do not fare as well as children raised in a traditional setting.
Carol Lewis February 18, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Kim, I doubt that many make that choice. Who would, given the problems and intolerance they would face. Perhaps you are talking about bi-sexual people who then make an opposite gender choice?
Carol Lewis February 18, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Kim, where is your proof that children raised by gay parents do not fare as well? As for the pro-gay marriage people being intolerant, I think they are arguing against reasons set forth for the anti-gay marriage crowd, not being intolerant of the people themselves. Every one has a right to their own opinion and every one has a right to disagree. And for heaven's sake what do taxes have to do with anything?
OldDaveNJ February 18, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Kim -- I did address the tax issue. Not every benefit given out by the government is tied directly to the expectation that there will be some sort of direct payback to the government; in fact, very few operate that way. But the costs associated with disintegrating families in this country are enormous, as are the social benefits of stable families. As for your claim that study after study has shown that children raised by same-gender couples do not fare as well as those raised by traditional families ... the exact opposite is true. Most studies show children raised by same-gender couples do just fine. The one notable study that claimed otherwise was the Regnerus study which, in fact, didn't do an apples-to-apples comparison between same-gender couples and straight couples, but compared kids raised by parents, at least one of whom had had at least one same-sex encounter sometime in life, with kids raised from birth by their biological parents. More than anything it was a study of the effects of parental instability. Even Regnerus has acknowledged that the study says nothing about the quality of same-gender parenting, and noted that the two kids in his study who were raised from infancy by same-gender couples turned out wonderfully.
aab February 18, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Kim--I would like to know where you get your "studies" on gay families http://www.apa.org/news/press/response/gay-parents.aspx American Psychological Ass--(based on real science-peer reviewed) "There is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children (Patterson, 2000, 2004; Perrin, 2002; Tasker, 1999); See the full resolution on the Sexual Orientation, Parents, & Children webpage."
Jim in Virginia February 18, 2013 at 10:10 PM
All this is really quite amazing and the issue has not been handled too well. It's always in your face and people are fed up with it. Beware of a societal backlash of which you have no earthly idea. Strictly enforced sodomy laws with imprisionment and fines with active entrapments within urban zones known to harbor such activities. Thankfully, we can still...in Virgina legally ban you from renting or buying our homes. Look it up, you're not a protected class in Virginia Real Estate Law and the unenforceable so called realty ethics are not binding in a court. I've gladly sent sodomites running from my open houses at my properties and will continue to do so. The line has been drawn.
Carol Lewis February 18, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Jim in Virginia, unfortunately you are right that gay people are not protected in Virginia. They can be fired or fail to be hired simply for being gay. Sodomy though is practiced by both homo- and heter-sexual couples so I'm not sure who you are banning by sending sodomites running from your properties. How do you know they are sodomites? Do you ask them? Do you spy on them in their bedrooms? Do you think you can tell by just looking? Really?
Carol Lewis February 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM
And by the way, Jim in Virginia, do you know the definition of sodomy? Would you turn away a married man and woman who engage in oral sex because he cannot have an erection? Again how do you know, how can you tell? Surely you don't ask!
Kim McCoy February 19, 2013 at 02:39 AM
...it’s as if you didn’t even consider the validity of my post. I understand that this is a highly emotional subject for the pro-gay marriage sect, but the state of Virginia cannot decide to pass legislation based on feelings. The purpose of the Virginia state legislature is to decide what is in the best financial interest of all of it’s residents and gay marriage just doesn’t fit that criteria. There is absolutely no positive for the state in this bill. It will not provide new or increased revenue. It will not serve to further the best interests of the state in any way. I’m sure that none of you level-headed Americans want the state government to start passing bills into law that serve no other purpose than to reduce revenue to appease a minority mindset. What exactly is the purpose of homosexuals needing the state to sanction their lifestyle? I’m still waiting on the argument that shows me how this would be beneficial to the state.The state cannot forcibly legitimize or normalize the lifestyle, no matter how many laws they pass. If you tell me “equal protection” under the law, that argument falls flat as the two are not equal on almost any level. We can discuss any level that you like, but we will have to take them one at a time as we only get 1500 characters a shot. Carol, were you a gay marriage advocate before you knew your son was gay?...if not, I think you should ask yourself, why not? ...as I said before, the truth shall set you free.
OldDaveNJ February 19, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Kim -- it is as if you didn't even read my response, much less consider its validity. I actually should say responses (plural) as I've explained twice why same-gender civil marriage benefits society. And again, there is nothing in civil marriage laws in the US to link civil marriage and procreation.
Ann H Csonka February 19, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Carol -- Not to worry -- our A.G. will undoubtedly work hard to add a special force to the State Police or whichever law enforcement agency he plans to use to enforce the "Bedroom Ops" troopers who will ensure that no zygote is wasted and no one even talks about having an abortion. Should be bucks for that, right? Certainly no problem allowing Viagra and Cialis being covered by health insurance, right? Just not poor people (and especially not their children). Maybe there won't be any highway money left at all if they have to borrow for the Social Enforcement Troopers.
Carol Lewis February 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM
Kim McCoy, I've been an advocate for gay rights all my adult life.
Watt Chinanwaitin February 21, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Hey all you gay "pastors", check out this link, especially 22-27: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%201&version=KJV, I think you'll find that the people of Virginia, as well as the legislators for once, have it absolutely right on this one. As for the rest of you, there's this great book I've heard of...you know the one...it's all about.........wait for it........... THE TRUTH!!!
JoeOvercoat February 23, 2013 at 01:22 PM
Why is the Govt involved in marriage in any way? Why does the Govt need to recognize marriage in any way? Eliminate joint filing, eliminate all the tax benefits extended to families, and get the Govt out of the family business: issue solved.
JoeOvercoat February 23, 2013 at 01:25 PM
Actually, encouraging marriage among the homosexual demographic may *reduce* HIV/AIDS infections by reducing promiscuity within that demographic, possibly. Your children are not going to be turned gay by someone else: either they are or they aren't homosexual, already. So let people different than you be...that's what your children could be learning.


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