Virginia House Against Same-Sex Unions — Again Va. House Moves to Reject Same-Sex Unions

The Virginia House of Delegates gave preliminary approval Thursday to legislation that would ban the recognition of same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships, mirroring efforts by states across the nation to prevent gays and lesbians from enjoying the same rights as married couples.

That’s rather a non sequitur, no? Do unmarried heterosexual couples have the same rights as married couples? Apparently not.

Virginia is one of 38 states that already ban the recognition of same-sex marriages. The bill would add to Virginia’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” a ban against recognition of same-sex civil unions or partnerships arrangements allowed in Vermont and California.

The proposal was approved by a voice vote. If given final approval on Friday, it heads to the Senate. To become law, it must be signed by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).

The House action followed an announcement this week that President Bush plans to endorse a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages but would not prevent state legislatures from recognizing civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Proponents said that the legislation is necessary to preserve the sanctity of marriage. At least 137 couples from Virginia have entered into civil unions in Vermont, according to the bill’s sponsor, Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), and could demand that the state recognize rights Virginia reserves for husbands and wives.

“We’re Virginia,” Marshall declared. “We accept one kind of marriage and only one kind.”

Heh. Well, I’ve only lived in Virginia eighteen months, but I’m pretty sure there are several kinds of marriages.

Opponents said the bill was discriminatory and redundant.

How can it be both? Or, at least, if it’s both, does it matter?

Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the General Assembly’s first openly gay lawmaker [There’s a Bud Lite commerical just waiting to happen! -ed.] , asked his colleagues how many times they wanted to declare that “we are second class citizens.”

“I don’t think it’s a threat to anyone in this room if two committed gay or lesbian people want to set up housekeeping together and want to be monogamous,” Ebbin said. “Do whatever you have to do, but do we have to do this over and over and over?”

I agree. But I’m not sure how the bill would prevent gays and lesbians shacking up. It would, presumably, just have the effect–redundantly, apparently–of treating them as unmarried. Just as we do heterosexuals shacking up.

Still, surely the legislature has better things to do. Like getting all these potholes filled. Or weighing in on the important matter of Janet Jackson’s nipple shield.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. There are a few places where this matters: in the emergency room, when someone dies intestate (my spelling’s probably off–that is, when they die without a will), and when they want to adopt.

    Other than that, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot.

    Except for this annoying fact: when someone refers to their “partner,” and one isn’t sure if they mean “life partner” or “business partner.” I wish we’d just recognize gay marriages simply to fix that problem.

  2. James Joyner says:


    True. Of course, these things could be changed rather simply with a will and a minor change in hospital policy. I’m pretty sure several states permit homosexuals to adopt; indeed, even singles adopt nowadays.

  3. Stephen says:

    Once again, I want those who read this to know that I have not reached a fixed conclusion about gay marriage. I’ve read several times here that gay marriage is a libertarian issue. I’m going to state how opposition to gay marriage is a libertairan issue.

    In every leftist community (and I live in the most leftist of them), you will here this common refrain every day: “If only it weren’t for that nasty Bush, the horrible evangelicals, the Republicans, etc., I’d have a great sex and love life.” This is what the left means when it rails against “sexual repression.” Implicit in this complaint is the acknowledgement that love and sex are failing in leftist communities. In other words, leftist communities are blaming what I see as personal failures on government policy. (I’ll concede that this is true of both the hetero and homosexual sides of the left.)

    Happiness in sex and love is an issue of personal responsibility and intiative. How can federal or state governments fix that? So, opposition to gay marriage can be a libertarian issue. It can be argued that what is wrong with the homosexual lifestyle will not be cured by a change in governmental policy. The belief that policy change will produce change in that lifestyle may be a chimera.

    I lived through the great AIDs epidemic. It was caused by the behavior of gay men, not by governmental policy. My closest friend over the past 20 years is dying of AIDs. Every man from his circle of friends is dead. Sustained relationships in that community are a rarity. Religious tradition and folk wisdom lead me to believe that scourges such as the AIDs epidemic have visited the gay community repeatedly throughout human history. In other words, I do not believe that traditional religious and societal proscriptions against homosexual are rooted in prejudice and bigotry. I believe those proscriptions began with real experience. Gay sex, particularly male gay sex, was a health disaster, and the ancients knew it. They also needed more people, so procreation was a pre-eminent value.

    How will the well known and long understood negatives of homosexuality be cured by a change in governmental policy? Isn’t this another example of shifting personal responsibility to the state?