Richmond may recognize married same-sex couples

The Richmond City Council is preparing to open discussion on extending benefits to married same-sex couples who work for the city.

A major local church is already slamming the move.

"When the country gets to a point where we make legal what God says is not legal," said Richmond Christian Center Pastor Steve Parsons. "We are in trouble."

The new ordinance calls for amending or reordaining the city code to recognize same sex marriages that have lawfully occurred in other states. It would require the city to provide benefits for the spouses of Richmond city workers in same sex marriages.

"They are not in that other region," said Pastor Parsons. "They are in this region, and in this region it is not legal. I don't feel as if they should have the benefits."

Richmond city council member Parker Agelasto says it is time to act.

"There is a new council," said Mr. Agelasto. "There is a Supreme Court ruling. I think now is the time."

Patrons of the ordinance include city council president Charles Samuels.

"So essentially what we are trying to do is to make sure that the city work force is not discriminated against in any fashion," said Mr. Agelasto.

Pastor Parsons says this is not a civil rights issue.

"I don't call it discriminating against people when you don't give them the right to be married," said Parsons. "Because there are certain rights that people shouldn't have."

A recent poll by the Human Rights Campaign shows 55 percent of Virginians support marriage equality.

"No," said Parsons. "Men shouldn't have the right to marry other men in the same sense that a father shouldn't have the right to marry his daughter."

Agelasto could not disagree more.

"I think we are doing what's right," said Agelasto.

We asked Mr. Agelasto if he thought the ordinance would pass.

"I can't say that," said Agelasto. "I'm hopeful."

You can weigh-in on this discussion. There is a public hearing scheduled for Monday, September 9th at 6pm at city hall in council chambers. This goes before committees next week.

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