Canvassers in the
town of Warrenton, Va., have been threatened with
arrest should they continue going door-to-door urging people
to vote against an amendment that would ban same-sex
marriage and civil unions in the state. Police
officers have referenced a town ordinance meant to
control door-to-door salespeople to justify the threats of
The ACLU of
Virginia began sending out letters on Wednesday to police
chiefs throughout the state to make them aware of the rights
of political canvassers.
"Door-to-door canvassing for political and religious
purposes is carved so deeply into the American
landscape that one hardly needs to invoke the
Constitution to justify it," said ACLU of Virginia
executive director Kent Willis in a statement.
"Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Supreme
Court has struck down every local ordinance that attempts to
interfere with this basic First Amendment right.
Homeowners have a right to ask canvassers to leave
their property, but homeowners should not expect the
police to remove canvassers from neighborhoods just because
they find their presence irritating or they
don't like the content of their
Mason-Dixon poll showed that 40% of respondents said they
would vote against the amendment while 54% support it.
senator John Edwards and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine have voiced
their opposition to the amendment. A number of communities
and business groups, mostly in northern Virginia, have
stated their opposition to the amendment as well,
primarily over its provisions that would potentially
affect domestic-partner benefits.
attorney general, Bob McDonnell, issued a legal opinion that
the amendment would not ban private companies'
domestic-partner benefits, negate agreements between
partners, or affect nonmarried opposite-sex couples.
"The passage of the Marriage Amendment will not affect
current legal rights and obligations of unmarried persons
involving contracts, wills, advance medical
directives, shared equity agreements, employer
accident and sickness insurance policies, or protection
under domestic-violence laws," McDonnell wrote in a
But some of the
state's top legal minds, including Gov. Tim Kaine,
disagree. "The potential for unintended consequences is a
very serious flaw," Kaine said in a statement,
reminding reporters that the state already has
legislation limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Last month 100
noted Virginia attorneys, including two former attorneys
general, issued a statement saying they believe the measure
could be used to take away all of the rights of
unmarried couples who have entered into contracts on
such things as child custody and wills. They also stated
that the amendment could be used to exclude unmarried
couples from Virginia's domestic-violence laws.
In less than a
month, voters in Virginia go to the polls to consider the
amendment. (The Advocate)
Be sure to follow Advocate on your favorite social platform
DON'T MISS THE OUT100 SPECIAL 3 DAY MARATHON STARTING NOVEMBER 24TH!
Journey through the year’s influential Out100 – the most iconic and long-standing celebration of LGBTQ+ icons and allies – in a 1-hour television special spotlighting the LGBTQ+ people shaping the world today.