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
A Russian actor who said gay people should be burned alive is now asking Russian President Vladmir Putin to re-enact a Soviet-era law criminalizing sodomy.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in the ongoing legal battle over gay marriage in Utah. Marriages in the state are on hold, and Gov. Gary Herbert has also instructed state agencies not to recognize the more than 1,300 legal same-sex marriages performed before the stay was issued.
In related Utah news, the federal government announced that it would offer legal recognition to all same-sex marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court stay.
Lawmakers in Indiana introduced a measure that could put an anti-LGBT marriage amendment on the ballot in that state during the first week of its 2014 legislative session.
Nigeria has become the latest African country to pass legilsation discriminating against LGBT people. On Jan. 13, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the bill into law. The new law prohibits same-sex marriage and also makes nearly every aspect of LGBT life illegal. Anyone suspected of being gay can be imprisoned. Anyone attempting to enter or perform a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. The bill also outlaws gay organizations and meetings, as well as Pride parades. Those who violate that provision can face 10 years in prison.