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Proposal for "traditional marriage" license plate advances in Virginia

Proposal for "traditional marriage" license plate advances in Virginia

License plates bearing the message "Traditional Marriage" would pull the state into an expensive, no-win court battle and could eventually force the state to approve plates celebrating unconventional forms of marriage, legislative opponents warned Monday. Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter's measure advanced to a Tuesday vote on final passage after it shrugged off an amendment that would have stripped the word "Traditional" from the specialty license plate. "The amendment strikes 'Traditional' because I certainly don't want to be on the record as not supporting marriage. I suspect we all support marriage. In fact, probably many of us have tried it more than once," Delegate Brian Moran said, spurring laughter throughout the house chamber. Moran, a Democrat for Alexandria, said the sponsor testified before a committee that the plate would celebrate the exclusive union of one man and one woman in wedlock. License plates then become a public forum, and federal courts have repeatedly ruled that dissenting viewpoints must be given the same forum, opponents of the bill argued. "So if we pass a 'traditional marriage' license plate represented as a man and a woman, next year we're going to have 'Gay Marriage' or 'Marriage Equality' license plates, and I suspect you all won't want to pass those," Moran said. "What we are about to buy is a lawsuit we clearly will lose," he said. Democratic delegate Adam P. Ebbin of Alexandria, the first openly gay member of the house, said he was asked this year to introduce a bill establishing a "Marriage Equality" license plate, "but I refused because I do not believe license plates should be a public forum. This is a plate that would be made available to adulterers, divorced people, people who have sex outside marriage." Republican Lingamfelter of Prince William denied that the plates define marriage as a monogamous male-female union. That characterization, he said, reflected only his view of traditional marriage.

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