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Legislators Introduce Legislation to Repeal Virginia's Unconstitutional Bans on Same-Gender Marriage

Ebbin and Sickles say that Laws Need to Respect All Citizens

ALEXANDRIA, VA.  – Today, Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Delegate Mark Sickles (D-43) introduced legislation in their respective bodies of the General Assembly to repeal Article I Section 15-A of the Constitution of Virginia and §§ 20-45.2 and 20-45.3 of the Code of Virginia. These sections, all of which have been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States, limit the definition of marriage to “a union between one man and one woman” and restrict access to the legal privileges and obligations of marriage.

“I know it has been hard for Virginia to clear her Code of unconstitutional provisions in the past, but this is a great time to start,” said Delegate Mark Sickles. “The Supreme Court has made it perfectly clear that marriage equality is the law of the land, and that individual freedom and privacy are guaranteed to all. Nobody’s First Amendment rights to speech, religious freedom or association are lessened when someone else shares the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Nobody’s marriage is threatened by anyone else’s marriage. By continuing to allow antiquated language to remain in our Constitution and Code, we tell the world that only certain folks are welcome here in the Commonwealth and many are not fully equal under the law. We can change.”

"The Virginia Constitution and code need to reflect the reality that lesbian and gay couples are full and equal citizens of the Commonwealth," said Senator Adam P. Ebbin. "It is unconscionable that the General Assembly has not yet fixed the code and begun the process to bring the Constitution into conformance with the law of the land. Our legislation is in keeping with the Jeffersonian ideal that 'laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.'"

 

BACKGROUND:

  • Delegate Sickles and Senator Ebbin are openly gay members of the General Assembly.
  • Senator Ebbin chaired the 2006 Commonwealth Coalition campaign against the Marshall-Newman Marriage Amendment.
  • Delegate Sickles has served as the Deputy Minority Leader of the House Democratic Caucus since 2015.
  •  In February of 2014, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in favor of the plaintiffs Timothy Bostic and Tony London in Bostic v. Schaefer that Virginia’s ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.
  •  In July of 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. ruled 2-1 in favor of US District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s decision in Bostic v. Schaefer.
  •  In June of 2015, the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, held in a 5-4 ruling that the fundamental right to marriage extends to same-sex couples under the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.