In an act of both
optimism and defiance, 60 gay and straight couples took
public commitment vows Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist
Church in Arlington, Va., The
Washington Post reported Monday.
Singing protest songs and walking in procession,
the couples gathered before a banner that read
“Marriage is a civil right.” Unitarian
reverend Richard Nugent presided over the crowd,
loudly voicing his support for universal marriage
rights. “Whether you are married in the eyes of the
law or only in the eyes of your family, this ceremony is for
you,” he said, according to the newspaper.
The ceremony coincides with the same-sex
marriage debate exploding in both Virginia and
neighboring Maryland. Virginia legislators are
currently considering a constitutional amendment defining
marriage as strictly the union of a man and a
woman. While there is currently a ban on any
recognition of same-sex unions in Virginia, Republican
legislators are pushing for a constitutional change so those
laws can’t be altered by judicial decisions.
Voters could be asked to decide on the matter in
November, the Post reported.
“To put it bluntly,” Nugent told
the crowd, “this amendment is mean-spirited,
arises out of political expediency, and fuels ungrounded
fear and bigotry.
On the other side of the spectrum, a Maryland
circuit court judge last week decided that the ban
on same-sex marriage was discriminatory. The case
will now head to an appeals court, and if the first
judge’s decision is upheld, same-sex marriage
could be legalized in the state.
Rhonda Buckner, who committed to her partner,
Diane Ullius, in the ceremony, said she is optimistic
that her home state of Virginia will one day follow
Maryland's lead. “There is no way the world can turn
back now,” she told the newspaper. “They
can make it miserable in the meantime, but they
can’t change progress.” (Advocate.com)