I was infuriated to hear the election commentators on TV refer to this as the "gay marriage amendment". Hello... gay marriage is and has been illegal in VA for several years now. This amendment was NOT about gay marriage at all - it was about writing discrimination against unmarried people into the state's constitution.
Here is the exact wording of the amendment:
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."
If you only read the first sentence/paragraph, it might appear that this amendment was defining (yet again) what the state will and will not recognize as a marriage. But keep on reading. It goes so far as to say that it will not recognize any other legal status that tries to immitate the rights, benefits, or effects of marriage.
Now remember, this is not just about gay people who are already prevented from getting married in VA. The wording says "unmarried individuals". This amendment affects all Virginians who are not married! Shame on you, Virginia!!!
So what does this all mean? Can a Catholic priest (obviously unmarried) not designate someone to whom he isn't married as his life insurance benefactor? Can a divorced woman not will her house to her best male or female friend because they aren't married? Can a gay couple not transfer ownership of jointly-owned property from one partner to the other upon one partner's death? To tell you the truth, I'm just not sure. But I do know this: Single people pay taxes just like married people do, yet we are being discriminated against and restricted simply because we are not married.
Here's what Equality Virginia has to say on its website at www.equalityvirginia.org/site/pp.asp?c=dfIIITMIG&b=253185:
- It is unnecessary to amend the Virginia Constitution to define civil marriage. State law already defines civil marriage as between a man and a woman. In fact, Virginia law already goes beyond prohibiting civil marriage between same-sex couples, by prohibiting civil unions, domestic partnerships and any “other arrangement” between same-sex couples that purports to bestow the benefits of marriage. Federal law protects Virginia from being forced to recognize marriages celebrated in other states.
- It would hurt families. The proposed amendment would permanently deny the families of same-sex couples the legal protections and financial stability offered by civil marriage and the lesser benefits that could be achieved through civil unions, domestic partnerships or other forms of legal recognition. By extending the restrictions on relationship recognition to all unmarried couples, gay and straight, the proposal would likely generate litigation like that filed in other states aimed at ending health care coverage for domestic partners and rendering unconstitutional the application of domestic violence laws to unmarried people.
- It would not affect the religious sacrament of marriage. The Virginia Constitution does not need to be changed to protect the religious sacrament of marriage and should not be amended to incorporate religious definitions of marriage. All religious faiths are already free to define and celebrate marriage in accord with their religious beliefs. No church or religious faith can be compelled by any state law or by any court to recognize any marriage. Nor will it allow the state to prohibit any church or religion from celebrating or recognizing any marriage or union it chooses.
- Virginia should not discriminate. Sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic. Like race and gender, it is not a lifestyle or choice. Amending the Virginia Constitution to authorize disparate treatment based on sexual orientation is unfair, inappropriate and un-Virginian. Given Virginia's past history of legislated segregation and the prohibition of inter-racial marriages, Virginia legislators and voters should consider carefully how future generations will judge those who vote to write a new category of discrimination into the Virginia Constitution.
- Most Virginians do not support discrimination against gays and lesbians and a majority support allowing civil unions and other legal recognition of gay relationships. A recent survey of Virginians conducted by a bi-partisan polling team shows that an overwhelming majority of Virginians do not support discrimination based on sexual orientation, and most support civil unions. The proposed amendment would take away from the legislature the ability to change Virginia law to allow recognition of civil unions and other agreements, and leave unelected judges with the sole right and ability to define the benefits, obligations and effects of marriage.
This just makes me so mad I can hardly see straight. If I weren't already planning to move out of the state of VA, I would start planning it now. However, this amendment will continue to affect me even after I move out of the state because Joe & I co-own property in VA that we aren't planning to sell for awhile. Maybe those plans will have to change.
Drag Queen name of the day: Mona Lott