Virginia House Against Same-Sex Unions — Again
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.