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Virginia

Va. Assembly tables bill to repeal gay marriage ban as lawsuits move forward

Monday, January 20, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. — While two federal lawsuits challenging Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage are moving forward, a House committee voted Monday to table the only bill aimed at repealing the ban, effectively ending the fight from the legislative front in this session.

Scott Surovell

GayRVA
Scott Surovell

House Bill 939 would have repealed “the statutory prohibitions on same-sex marriages and civil unions or other arrangements between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges and obligations of marriage,”

While many legislators submitted bills aimed at removing the same-sex marriage ban from the state’s constitution, no constitutional amendments will be heard this session because amendments can only be heard in sessions divided by an election, reported GayRVA.com.

The proposed bill, sponsored by Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon), would not have legalized same-sex marriage, but rather it would have removed the language from the Code of Virginia.

Absent a federal court ruling, a popular vote and successful passage of two General Assembly sessions would still be required to remove the ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia.

The earliest voters could see a proposed change to the state constitution would be in 2016. The marriage ban was approved by 57 percent of voters in 2006.

Meanwhile, two separate lawsuits intended to topple the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage have been filed in federal courts, which are typically speedy in Virginia. The issue could ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, involves two couples from the Shenandoah Valley who claim the state’s ban on gay marriage violates the Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are representing the plaintiffs.

The other lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk on similar constitutional claims. The legal costs in that case are being paid for by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was behind the effort to overturn California’s gay marriage ban.

A hearing in the Bostic case is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Norfolk.

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18 more reader comments:

  1. Garrett Piersa

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:18am
  2. I’m not surprised. And honestly, I think it far more likely that the courts will do the right thing, whereas our still deeply red legislature will not…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:19am
  3. Keep’em coming

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:20am
  4. progress.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:21am
  5. this is a sad day we have more work ahead of us!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:23am
  6. TN, GA, MS will soon follow

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:24am
  7. Sad day

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:24am
  8. I’m looking forward to WY taking the plunge too

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:25am
  9. There’s always a bit of apprehension prior to sweeping cultural changes – VA is awaking from its colonial slumber!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:26am
  10. It’s not too bad. This is such a big step for Virginia. But we will make it!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:27am
  11. Caribbean Lgbt- I hope to see TN. Progess march on!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:27am
  12. Working on it…

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:30am
  13. Sue,Sue,Sue…until the legal attempt realizes. We are here! !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:38am
  14. Was this good or bad?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 1:28am
  15. It’s going to happen. Maybe not today, but soon.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 2:15am
  16. One of the many reasons to vote straight line Democrat. Given the Republicans’ redistricting and various voter suppression tactics, make sure your vote is counted.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 2:52am
  17. One of the many reasons that any gay couple living in a state that does not recognize same-sex civil marriage should get legally married in a state that has same-sex civil marriage, go back to their home state, and sue, sue, sue, sue.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 2:53am
  18. This should not even be up for discussion…the answer is a no brainer don’t you think?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 4:12am