The Huntington, W.Va., city council has defeated a proposal that would have barred the city from recognizing same-sex marriages, saying the ordinance would do nothing more than duplicate state law. The ordinance, sponsored by councilman Tom McCallister, failed on a 7-4 vote Monday night. The proposal would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and included criminal penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. A state law containing that definition was adopted in 2000. The state Defense of Marriage Act also states that same-sex marriages recognized in other states will not be recognized in West Virginia.
The proposed city ordinance drew comments from about 30 members of the public and council members, who debated the ordinance for about two hours. Those who spoke in favor of the ordinance said the council would send a message that it realizes the importance of marriage and protects the existence of traditional families, while opponents said the proposal would instill hate and discrimination into the city's law books. "We've wasted an awful lot of time on this issue when we could be dealing
with a lot more important things," councilman Larry Patterson said.