Lobbying for Equal Rights

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

January 25, 2006

Today several members of the Charlottesville community traveled to Richmond to lobby against a recent bill passed by a Senate committee, calling it unconstitutional. According to some groups in Charlottesville, the Virginia Marriage amendment enters discrimination into the state constitution.

The Virginia constitution could be one step closer to banning gay marriage. That's why the local group headed to Richmond. Nearly thirty local residents left this morning for the state capital for their Equality Virginia's Lobby Day.

"Everybody has a right to be respected, and to raise their families and to do, I think, as they deem appropriate, if they're adults," said Millie Fife, of Interfaith Alliance.

Those are the sentiments shared by many opposers of a recent bill passed by a Virginia Senate committee. The bill clearly states "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 impacts those of us in Virginia that are straight and choose not to get married,as well as those that are gay," said Mark Ursy, Board of Directors for Equality Virginia. "So it's not just a gay issue."

If the bill is passed by the full senate, and in a November referendum, the amendment would only give marriage rights to a man and a woman. The proposed bill would not allow legal protections such as making medical decisions or insuring financial stability, both protected by civil marriages.

"This is purely either homophobic, or uninformed on their part, and we want to communicate that," continued Ursy. That was the motivation for those attending Lobby Day in Richmond, as well as several others who are expected to attend.

Lobbyists say this would be an amendment against any nontraditional family.

"[The goal is] primarily to go and talk with state legislators about particularly the marriage amendment that's coming before the state legislature," explained Ursy.

Early this morning, several organizations gathered to sign petitions, as well as encourage one another, before heading off to Richmond to rally for a light of hope for their cause. Not everyone was able to travel to Richmond today, but they say they aren't far behind.

"[We wanted to] let people know that they had our support even though we can't take off work or school, or get a time away from families to go with it. We were with them their in spirit," said Fife.

Ursy said, "We want for Virginia to leave families alone who are nontraditional whatever form that takes."

Once the group returns to Charlottesville they say they will continue to fight for what they feel is right, and what they feel their constitutional rights are. To become a part of the constitution, the bill must pass in the full Senate, and then face approval by the people of Virginia in November.

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