gay marriage generic

When a Democratic proposal to undo Virginia’s legally moot ban on same-sex marriage failed this year in a Republican-led subcommittee, some conservatives said they could potentially get behind a more stripped-down version of an idea Democrats pitched as correcting a moral wrong from 2006.

Instead of replacing the constitutional ban with pro-equality language declaring marriage a fundamental right — as Democrats have tried to do — the Republican critics said they’d be more supportive of simply erasing the ban, without going further into affirmatively pro-LGBTQ territory.

GOP-sponsored version of that proposal will be on the table for the 2023 General Assembly because of Del. Tim Anderson, R-Virginia Beach, who filed a so-called “clean repeal” plan late last month that only strikes the ban from the state constitution without adding anything else. Because it’s a constitutional amendment, the proposal has to pass the General Assembly two years in a row, then win final approval from voters in a 2024 election referendum.

“The conservative principle here is less government, more freedom,” Anderson said in an interview last week. “When you’re talking about gay marriage, there’s pretty much nothing more conservative than supporting the fact that two people should be treated equally.”

Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax, both gay men who have worked on LGBTQ equality legislation for years, have said they’re planning to file the same proposal as Anderson. That indicates it could succeed on a bipartisan basis, unless House GOP leadership overrules Anderson and blocks it. That’s not an uncommon maneuver in committees, where just a few strategically placed lawmakers can block legislation that has broad support and would likely pass if put to a full vote.

Anderson said he was curious about why his party did just that when it rejected the Democratic proposal in February, a move that drew emotional criticism from gay lawmakers who said they were deeply offended by conservatives’ claims it could lead to legalized polygamy or incestuous marriage, both of which are already illegal under state law. It’s more difficult to raise those arguments against an amendment that, on its own, does nothing but get rid of a marriage restriction already deemed invalid and unconstitutional.  

The stronger, Democratic-sponsored amendment cleared the state Senate last year with four Republican votes, leaving little doubt about the pro-marriage equality stance of a chamber where Democrats had a 21-19 majority last year. That majority could grow to 22 seats for the upcoming session, depending on the outcome of a Jan. 10 special election in Virginia Beach.

Anderson said the version he’s filed is the only one that can get through the House of Delegates, where Republicans are expected to again have a 52-48 majority.

“My bill is going to get through. And there’s going to be a time when Democrats are going to have to vote, should we take the same-sex marriage prohibition out of the constitution, yes or no,” Anderson said. “And if they say no, they’re going to have some explaining to do to the LGBTQ community. I think that they want it their way, but they’re not going to get it their way.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, did not respond when asked if Gilbert supports Anderson’s proposal.

Some Democrats agree that the simplified approach is the correct one given the realities of divided government in Richmond, but they’re pursuing other ways to protect marriage equality in Virginia.

“We tried to get affirming language last year and that didn’t work,” said Ebbin. “So it would still be a step forward to remove the prohibition from the constitution.”

Ebbin said he’ll also file accompanying legislation to put anti-discrimination language in the state code to ensure Virginia will keep issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriage. Ebbin said he’d still like to see the constitutional amendment pass, even if the associated bill fails.

House Minority Leader Don Scott, D-Portsmouth, said he was inclined to vote against a proposal he saw as a “half-measure.” But he said he’d ultimately defer to LGBTQ lawmakers and advocates on the question. He also praised Anderson, who came to the legislature in January with a reputation as a hard-right figure, for being “one of the few Republicans that will speak with me and talk with me and have conversations.”

“He was Saul until he got blinded by the light, which was the last election,” said Scott in a reference to a biblical figure who underwent a sudden conversion after a dramatic event. “He’s seen that some of those positions that they have taken are too extreme not only for the country, but definitely for Virginia.”

Virginians approved the same-sex marriage ban 16 years ago by a vote of 57.1% to 42.9%. Given the widespread acceptance of marriage equality today, advocates believe a repeal measure would pass overwhelmingly if the General Assembly puts the issue on the ballot again.

That push was seen as largely symbolic until the Supreme Court’s seismic abortion ruling this year, in which Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the Obergefell decision needs the same type of reassessment that led to the overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision that previously made abortion access a constitutional right.

As Virginia Democrats pushed to get rid of the state’s same-sex marriage ban earlier this year, the Virginia Catholic Conference raised the possibility the ban could be reactivated in the future due to changes at the federal level.

That now appears less likely as Congress prepares to pass legislation strengthening federal protections for same-sex marriage with the support of some Republicans who have indicated they’re no longer interested in fighting against marriage equality. If the federal legislation passes as expected, Virginia would have to recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states, regardless of whether the state does or doesn’t issue such licenses. 

It’s unclear if Ebbin’s bill to ensure the state continues to issue those licenses will win Republican support. Even if that measure fails, getting rid of the constitutional ban would effectively move Virginia’s stance on same-sex marriage from hostile to neutral if the Supreme Court were to strike down Obergefell.

By strengthening same-sex marriage at the federal level, Anderson said, the pending Respect for Marriage Act reduces the need for Virginia to act immediately to create new state-level protections. Anderson said he personally takes no issue with marriage equality from a government perspective, but he said he doesn’t believe religious institutions should also be compelled to accept it.

“The problem is that the religious right thinks that the Republican Party is supposed to be talking about morality,” Anderson said. “We’ve been somewhat hijacked in that context if a Republican comes up and says, ‘Hey you should be against gay marriage because it’s against God’s law.’ That’s not the role of the Republican Party or the role of government. That’s the role of the church.”

Sickles, the House Democrat who sponsored the marriage equality amendment Republicans blocked this year, said he expects Democrats to support the clean repeal plan because it would mean ridding the state of “ugly” constitutional language. He said he doesn’t particularly care if Republicans like Anderson can claim some of “the glory.”

“I welcome it,” Sickles said. “I hope there’s bipartisan support. And I hope that he can figure out a way to get it out of our Privileges and Elections Committee. It’s a hopeful sign.”


Courtesy of Virginia Mercury.

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(13) comments

Paul Deed

@Dudko perhaps you should take a break and get some fresh air. Multiple post about projecting your fascination of Hunter Biden's onto Republicans is more than just creepy. It's a full fledged sign that you are clearly in too deep on the democratic propaganda. Many people have been radicalized by such propaganda by the obvious overwhelming crime that we are experiencing. You seem to support it and engage at least here about it multiple times a day. Go in peace and treat others with respect and dignity.

John Dutko

Gee... You may be onto something.

I will scrounge up all the time Republican politicians have mentioned Hunter Biden's Laptop. Hell, McCarthy is making it a political sticking point. Ted Cruz retweeted the Hunter Biden Penis (I will not provide the link).

How bout you contact your congressional representative and demand a return to "family values" and not spread revenge porn.

As-salamu alaykum

George Lawton IV

They better not, voted and approved by the citizenry.

Dale Dobacki

"Antiquated?" Marriage is between a man and a woman, period. A civil union is when the government gets involved due to tax implications and benefits. But given the fake news of InsideNova, I wouldn't expect you to highlight facts. Can't let the agenda get in the way.

John Dutko

Let's take it a step further: If you are married and do not have kids, your marriage gets annulled.

Because what is the point of marriage, other than tax breaks?

Paul Deed

I believe there are bigger more important issues to be focused on instead of the constant infatuation of sexual preference.

John Dutko

Like pics of Hunter Biden's penis? You guys sure are obsessed with that.

Lynne June

You must be fixated on it because you’re the only one I’ve seen bring it up again on this forum.

Paul Benedict

He brings it up in almost every discussion, no matter the topic.

John Dutko

Glad you bring it up.

The Hunter Biden's Laptop mantra has been pushed by a number of people in this forum for 2 years. Matt Taibi thought he had a breaking news story that revealed the wishes of the White House to stop the images from being published. When Elon Musk took over Twitter, he obliged the requests of Taibi and subsequently showed what the White House was trying to shield: Hunter Biden's penis.

This was reported emphatically on by the NY Post and many other right-wing news organizations.

So why is this relevant?

A private citizen who has never been employed or received a paycheck from the US Govt became a target by the Trump organization as a way to sully then candidate Biden because of his familial connection.

By the same token, y'all turn a blind-eye to the $2 Billion Saudi investment into Jared Kushner. And the trademarks granted to Ivana by the Chinese. Or ANY of the money-laundering incidents during the Trump presidency.

Instead, let's focus on a non-issue that simpletons can rally around. A fricking laptop with a dude who was coked out of his mind, cavorting with prostitutes.

I just wish the Republican party would wake up and stop being the party of nutjobs. Trolling is not an effective way to govern and only inspires violence.

John Dutko


You wish they never opened up the Pandora's Box that is Hunter Biden's Laptop.

I hope Republicans go all-in on that nonsense. Let them waste time and money for fantastical BS that won't yield squat.

Bill Rio

@JohnDutko You are literally insane. It has nothing to do with Hunter doing inappropriate things and EVERYTHING to do with collusion of the Biden family to other countries.

John Dutko


That's some heavy stuff.

The same group of people who believe in the the gospel of Hunter Biden's Laptop run in the same circles as anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, Seth Rich, birds aren't real, aliens, 5G gives you Covid, and incels.

What you fail to understand is this laptop fiasco ONLY appeals to the nutjobs. So keep at it.

Republicans will continue to distance themselves from reality and continue to lose large swaths of voting blocs as their base dies off. They have not made any attempts to help anyone but the rich. If Republicans want to win, they have to drop the crazy stuff and emulate Reagan or McCain or Boehner. Cuz right now, y'all toxic people and nobody wants to talk to you.

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