Virginia to Consider Amendment on Marriage; Measure against Same-Sex Unions

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Byline: Christina Bellantoni, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Lawmakers in Virginia are aiming to place the commonwealth at the forefront of the nation's battle against same-sex unions when the General Assembly reconvenes next week.

The legislature will consider a state constitutional amendment to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, by reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage.

Virginia law recognizes a marriage only between a man and a woman. It does not recognize same-sex unions performed in other states.

Lawmakers also will consider creating a special driver's license plate for supporters of traditional marriage. The license plate would feature two interlocked golden wedding bands over a red heart.

"You can see the handwriting on the wall," said Delegate Richard H. Black, Loudoun Republican. "Thirteen out of 13 states passed these amendments."

Last year, 13 states voted to amend their constitutions to forbid same-sex "marriages," bringing to 17 the number of states that have such amendments.

Both measures have a good chance of passing Virginia's Republican-controlled General Assembly, which begins its session Jan. 12. The legislature overwhelmingly has approved previous efforts to support traditional marriage.

Delegate John A. Cosgrove, Chesapeake Republican, authored the marriage amendment.

The legislature must approve the amendment two years in a row before sending the measure to the voters. That means voters would decide on the measure in November 2006, when Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, is up for re-election. Mr. Allen opposes same-sex unions.

The governor's approval is not necessary for the amendment to be implemented.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, Prince William Republican, has proposed the license-plate bill. He said proceeds from the sale of the plates would go to the state's general fund.

"If you support traditional marriage, you might want to make a statement about your views," Mr. Lingamfelter said. "The American people in November made a very, very clear statement in favor of traditional marriage. You saw it again and again across the country. It's for people who want to signify their support for something that has seemed to have worked for 4,000 years."

Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, said he isn't sure whether the issue should be featured on license plates.

"Our license plates kind of turn too much into political sloganeering on either end of the spectrum," Mr. …