Fifteen years ago, more than 1.3 million Virginians said marriage should only mean a union between a man and a woman and same-sex couples shouldn’t be entitled to similar status that would give them the same rights under the law as straight couples.
That was the view of 57 percent of Virginians who voted in 2006, more than enough to put a same-sex marriage ban in the state Constitution.
Much has changed since then. And Democratic lawmakers want to give a new generation of Virginians an opportunity to make a different statement in 2022.
The General Assembly is advancing a proposal to put a question on the ballot asking voters if they want to strip the now-defunct gay marriage ban out of the Constitution. That ban has been functionally moot since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide after ruling the right to marry is fundamental.
“This would remove a stain on the Constitution,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, a sponsor of the proposed amendment who in 2003 became the first openly gay Virginian to win a seat in the General Assembly.
Under a proposed amendment approved by both the House of Delegates and the Senate, the old statement on marriage in Virginia’s Constitution would be replaced with an affirmative declaration that all marriages must be treated equally as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.”
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.