The Virginia house of delegates tentatively approved legislation Thursday that affirms the state's ban on gay marriages, despite opponents' claims that the measure unnecessarily repeats what is already law. Del. Robert Marshall's bill comes as the Massachusetts legislature tries to compromise on language for a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriages but allowing civil unions.
Marshall said his bill is necessary to protect Virginia's law from the courts, citing the recent Massachusetts supreme judicial court's decision that struck down that state's ban on gay marriages. He said Virginia's law also may not stop gay couples from trying to get civil unions recognized in the state.
"I think we need to make an affirmation that we accept one type of marriage in Virginia and only one type of marriage," Marshall said.
The legislature's only openly gay member, Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), called the bill needless, saying that nobody has ever challenged Virginia's marriage law. "[Marshall's] afraid that people from Vermont or San Francisco or other strange and dangerous places are moving to Virginia to try to get their rights recognized here," Ebbin said, adding, "It's almost Valentine's Day, and I don't even have a date, let alone getting married." The bill faces a final vote Friday after advancing on a voice vote.