Gay Lawmaker Aims to Repeal Va. Marriage Ban

State senator Adam Ebbin introduced legislation that would repeal Virginia's constitutional prohibition on marriage equality.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

November 27 2013 2:24 PM ET

A gay state senator in Virginia is renewing his efforts to repeal the state's constitutional amendment forbidding marriage equality, through legislation similar to that which was killed by a House committee in January. 

Sen. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat who represents Alexandria, introduced a bill that would lay the groundwork to dismantle the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality last week. An identical bill was introduced in the state House of Delegates by fellow Democrat Joseph Morrisey, according to the Washington Blade

In 2006, Virginians voted to amend the state constitution to recognize as legal only the marriage of one man and one woman. The Marshall-Newman Amendment, as it was known, passed by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent that year. 

Ebbin's bill would begin the lengthy process of repealing that amendment by asking members of the General Assembly to approve the bills during the 2014 legislative session, and again in the 2016 session. If the bills are approved in both consecutive legislative sessions, then the proposal would appear on the November 2016 ballot, to be considered by Virginia voters. 

"Change is coming across the country and eventually we’ll have marriage equality in Virginia," Ebbin told the Blade last week. "The road to marriage equality in Virginia might not be a short one, but we’ve got to make sure we’re on our way."

Marriage equality advocates are attacking Virginia's discriminatory policies on several fronts, not just at the state capitol in Richmond. In August the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of two lesbian couples in Virginia seeking to overturn the constitutional and statutory prohibitions on marriage equality. And the bipartisan legal team that defeated California's Proposition 8 at the Supreme Court filed a federal lawsuit in Virginia in September, hoping to strike down the state's discriminatory policy through the courts. Virginia's governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe, also came out in support of marriage equality on the campaign trail.

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