Same-sex marriage is technically unconstitutional in Virginia. Republicans want to keep it that way

Virginia backs effort to remove same-sex marriage ban from state’s constitution

The Senate of Virginia has passed a proposal which aims to remove a defunct ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution – but it’s likely to fail.

Although same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Virginia since 2014, a year before the US Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land, the state’s constitution still defines marriage as “only a union between one man and one woman”.

Four Republicans joined Democrats in the Virginia Senate on Tuesday (15 February) to approve a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal this.

The proposed amendment must now pass the state House of Representatives in order to be added as a voter referendum in November during the midterm elections.

Despite the positive vote, however, it is believed that the proposal is likely to be rejected, as Republicans on a House subcommittee struck down the same proposal last week, the Los Angeles Blade reported.

House Democratic leader Eileen Filler-Corn said after the proposal was rejected on 8 February: “This morning, Virginia Republicans continued their assault on LGBTQIA+ individuals by killing an amendment that would have removed Virginia’s now-defunct marriage equality ban from the state constitution.

“Our Democratic House majority passed laws to make Virginia a more open and inclusive place… Virginia Republicans threaten to take us backwards by stoking the flames of hate and division, rather than accurately reflecting the laws of the country.”

No matter what the outcome of the vote, same-sex marriage will still be legal in Virginia, and all US states. The vote only affects the language within the state constitution.

The state has also come under fire in recent months from LGBT activists after a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would restrict trans students’ access to the correct bathrooms.

House Bill 1126, introduced by delegate John Avoli, would require school boards in Virginia to adopt policies that prevent trans students and staff from accessing facilities that align with their gender identity.

AnhThu Nguyen, executive director of the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center in Staunton, told News Leader that she was disappointed, but not surprised at the anti-trans bill.

She said: “We know that when trans youth don’t feel safe at school and are subject to harassment, that results in higher rates of depression and anxiety, alcohol and drug use, and lower self-esteem.”