This past Friday night, the Virginia State Senate considered a number of constitutional amendments, including this one by Sen. Adam Ebbin – “repeal of same-sex marriage prohibition; affirmative right to marry.” As you might recall, the anti-same-sex-marriage “Marshall-Newman amendment” (named after the amendment’s two hard-right sponsors, Bob Marshall and Steve Newman) was ratified by 57% of Virginia voters on November 7, 2006.
And there the amendment remains today, although fortunately it was ruled unconstitutional on February 13, 2014 by a U.S. District Judge. Then, “on June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. This ruling overturned all voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.”
In short, the amendment is now null and void, but its presence continues to besmirch Virginia’s constitution – so why not just remove it once and for all? On that note, see below for the State Senate’s debate on Sen. Ebbin’s proposed constitutional amendment.
- Sen. Ebbin explained that more than six years after it was declared unconstitutional, we now have a “rare chance for a do-over” with the Marshall-Newman amendment…“a chance to make our constitution accurate in terms of the operative laws of this country and this Commonwealth.”
- Sen. Jennifer Boysko talked about being the mom of a gay daughter. According to Sen. Boysko, this isn’t just about people having “the affirmative right that is recognized to be able to live their lives with love in the way that they choose,” but “the moms and the dads still want to walk their daughters down the aisle and they want to know that it’s something that is respected in their home state.” Sen. Boysko added that “this is a moment in history for us to right a wrong, to accept that love matters to everybody who lives here…that everybody counts and that everybody should be respected…”
- We then got a bunch of…who the hell knows, basically…from Sen. Lionell Spruill (D), not exactly the most LGBTQ-friendly Virginia legislator. Fortunately, Sen. Ebbin kept cool and dealt with Spruill’s…whatever the hell it was.
- As if that wasn’t bad enough, Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R) weighed in with his angst-ing about how there are SO MANY constitutional amendments this year, and apparently how that’s such a TERRIBLE thing. (eye roll) And Sen. Amanda Chase (R) weighed in, as you’d expect, for her belief that “marriage is between a man and a woman,” adding that she doesn’t think there’s any need for this amendment. Whatever.
- Finally, Sen. Janet Howell (D) demolished Norment’s idiocy: “Several years ago, we passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. We have to correct that horrible, disgusting mistake that was made several years ago. Had that not BEEN in our history, perhaps the arguments that we have too many constitutional amendments…might make sense, but this now is the moment for us to correct mistake that was made several years ago.”
- The amendment then passed the State Senate on a 24-12 vote, with all 12 “nay” votes by hard-right Republicans, including…yep, Sen. Steve Newman of Marshall-Newman infamy.