Virginia House Approves Gay 'Marriage' Ban; Amendment Must Be OK'd Again Next Year

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

Virginia House Approves Gay 'Marriage' Ban; Amendment Must Be OK'd Again Next Year


Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

RICHMOND - The House yesterday approved a constitutional amendment to define traditional marriage, making Virginia the first jurisdiction in the region to take such action.

The House voted 78-18 in favor of the amendment, which defines marriage as the union of a man and woman and bans same-sex civil unions. The legislature must pass the amendment again next year before it is sent to voters in November 2006.

Delegate Kathy J. Byron, Campbell Republican, who co-sponsored the measure, said the amendment is one of the most important she has ever seen.

"[Traditional marriage] is the fundamental building block of our society," Mrs. Byron said. "Now that definition, that tradition, that foundation is threatened. If we do not act, marriage as we have come to know it will be redefined through the judicial process."

During the debate, several House Democrats said the amendment is discriminatory and will one day be considered as "shameful" as the days of racial segregation and slavery.

"Today is one of the moments of which we will one day be ashamed," said Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, who is the legislature's only openly homosexual member. "We are about to actively write discrimination into our state constitution. I could not stand by while this body again uses gays and lesbians as scapegoats for what has happened to the institution of marriage."

Delegate James H. Dillard II of Fairfax was the only Republican who voted against the amendment. There are 60 Republicans, 37 Democrats and two independents in the House.The Senate on Monday voted 30-10 to pass a similar constitutional amendment defining marriage. There are 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats in the Senate.

Neither amendment requires the governor's approval to be implemented into the state constitution.

Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, has said he thinks the amendment is not necessary because Virginia law does not recognize same-sex unions.

Last year, voters in 13 states chose to amend their constitutions to define traditional marriage, bringing to 17 the number of states that have such amendments.

Mr. Ebbin compared the amendment to Virginia's history of slavery, the forced Trail of Tears migration for American Indians, lynchings, internment camps and Massive Resistance, the state's official effort to thwart court-ordered public school desegregation.

"You may argue that these are different, but I would say that discrimination is discrimination is discrimination," the Arlington Democrat said.

Mr. Ebbin said divorce, not homosexuals, is the true threat to marriage.

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Virginia House Approves Gay 'Marriage' Ban; Amendment Must Be OK'd Again Next Year
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