Republican representatives in the Virginia House of Delegates killed a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have allowed Virginia voters to decide whether or not to remove the antiquated, hateful ban on marriages between non-heterosexual couples, which is still preserved in the state’s constitution.
In a House subcommittee, GOP hardliners killed Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin’s amendment, SJ 242, which would have asked Virginians to vote in a referendum on the subject.
The Republican-controlled House of Delegates blocked a watered-down proposal despite efforts by supporters to gain bipartisan support by removing explicit language supporting equality for LGBTQ+ people, Virginia Mercury Newsreports.
In 2006, an amendment to the Virginia constitution banned same-sex marriage in the state. It has no legal bearing now. LGBTQ+ advocates argue that marriage equality isn’t as settled as it once was after the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last year.
Representatives of the socially conservative Family Foundation raised the possibility that the Supreme Court would overturn the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, just before Friday’s vote in a House Rules subcommittee.
"Opponents of removing the defunct ban on same sex marriage from our constitution made it clear — they believe Obergfell will be overturned. Their goal is to ban current, lawful, legitimate marriages of lgbt Virginians," Ebbin wrote on Twitter.
"I’m incredibly disappointed that my amendment to repeal the so-called marriage amendment failed in the House. We deserve action now to protect marriage equality and preserve lgbt rights, and the voters deserve a chance to rectify the mistake made in 2006," Ebbin added.
The LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Virginia decried the development.
“SHAMEFUL: Without any debate or comments, anti-equality lawmakers in a VA House subcommittee voted to kill a proposal to repeal VA’s defunct ban on same-sex marriage. It’s 2023. Marriage equality is NOT up for debate. We deserve a House that respects us as people,” the group tweeted.
“Today’s vote proves that Virginia’s Republican Party believes that the far-right Supreme Court will act to overturn the precedent set in the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, and it’s clear they want to be ready to ban current, lawful LGBTQ marriages if they do,” said Liam Watson, Press Secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Republicans are actively trying to strip Virginians of their freedoms – whether that’s the freedom to marry the person they love or the freedom to make their own health care decisions.”
Democrats who control Virginia’s senate have been a bulwark against the GOP’s worst anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Republicans, who control the lower chamber of the state legislature and the governorship, proposed 12 anti-trans bills that Democrats defeated this month.