Richmond approves symbolic same-sex partner benefits ordinance

Richmond approves symbolic same-sex partner benefits ordinance

RICHMOND, Va. — In a divisive meeting Monday evening, the Richmond city council approved an ordinance extending benefits to same-sex partners — that is, once the rest of the state allows it.

GayRVA.comLocal residents line up to speak at Monday's city council meeting in Richmond, Va.
Local residents line up to speak at Monday’s city council meeting in Richmond, Va.

The ordinance, which will “to the extent now or hereafter permitted or required by law… extend all benefits offered to the spouses of city employees in heterosexual marriages to the partners of city employees in same sex marriages that have lawfully occurred in other states,” is essentially symbolic, as Virginia still has a ban on same sex marriage in the state’s constitution.

However this ordinance, according to Council President Charles Samuels, will prepare the city for when the state recognizes same-sex marriage.

“From day one, there will not be the ability to do certain things because of the plans we didn’t make now,” he said.

Samuels said voters across the city would likely support the ordinance as 70 percent of Richmond voters rejected the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage when it was put on the ballot in 2006.

The ordinance drew both support and opposition from residents who spoke during a public comment period before Monday’s vote.

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South Richmond resident Charles Evans Hughes, spoke in opposition to the bill, saying homosexuality was a sin, and city council would be going against God’s will if they passed any kind of support for it.

“The day will come that you will answer for what you done here tonight by condoning something that’s contrary to what God said to do,” said Hughes. “The devil has got to be in you. Y’all can laugh at that all you want, but the devil is in you.”

The Charlottesville, Va., city council approved a similar ordinance on Oct. 7.

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