Beyond the Carolinas: Gay rights take focus in Virginia

Beyond the Carolinas

by Lainey Millen  Special Assignments  specialassignments@goqnotes.com
Published: January 17, 2014 in Beyond the Carolinas

National/Global

The Virginia Capitol. Photo Credit: Skip Plitt/C’ville Photography, via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed CC.

The Virginia Capitol.
Photo Credit: Skip Plitt/C’ville Photography, via Wikimedia Commons. Licensed CC.

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia General Assembly opened its 2014 legislative session on Jan. 8, prompting a flurry of bills on gay marriage and sex crimes.

Lawmakers introduced seven separate bills seeking to repeal the state’s anti-gay constitutional marriage amendment.

One sponsor, Del. Joseph Morrissey, told GayRVA.com that marriage for same-sex couple is “on an irreversible course and we’re gonna get it done.”

None of the bills are expected to pass in the state’s House or Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans.

According to a Marist poll, 55 percent of Virginians support same-sex marriage. Forty-seven percent oppose it.

A federal court challenge against Virginia’s anti-LGBT amendment is still pending. Ted Olson and David Boies, two attorneys who led the successful challenge to California’s Proposition 8, joined the Virginia case in September.

Lawmakers have also introduced a bill that would ban workplace discrimination. The bill’s language includes only the terms “sexual orientation,” though it will be defined to include gender identity or expression. It, too, is unlikely to advance.

In related legislation, one state lawmaker is seeking to criminalize oral and anal sex between minors. Republican state Sen. Thomas Garrett’s bill would effectively re-enact the state’s crimes against nature legislation, making oral and anal sex between minors or public oral or anal sexual acts a felony. The Supreme Court overturned Virginia’s crime against nature law in October, relying upon their landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

Also, newly-installed Gov. Terry McAuliffe took the historic step of signing his very first executive order as governor. The order bans anti-LGBT discrimination against state employees.

— Matt Comer

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