January 25, 2006
A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is moving through the Virginia Legislature and both sides are getting ready to take the fight to voters.
The amendment has been progressing since the General Assembly convened on January 11, and tonight it looks like the marriage amendment will be on the ballot in November.
"In November of this year, citizens of Virginia will be voting on this constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman," said Joshua Scott.
Joshua Scott isn't necessarily for or against the amendment, but he is interested in talking about the politics of the issue.
"Getting these amendments on the ballot for certain states can do interesting things and raise the voter turnout," said Scott.
This is the second year the measure has been before lawmakers. A constitutional amendment must pass two sessions of the assembly, with a house election in between, before it goes on the ballot. This issue has passed all of that, but why is it such a hot issue?
"Any legislation that deals with moral issues or social value issues are hot-button political topics," said Scott.
Virginia is not alone.
"This is not an issue that is unique to Virginia," he added. "Thirty-eight states have either statutory laws or constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman."
Local voters can expect to hear a lot more on the issue in the coming months.
"You're going to see coalitions of groups coming together, spending money on grass-roots efforts, television advertising, and mailings to help turnout their people to vote on this legislation," said Scott.
The amendment could affect unmarried heterosexual couples as well, on issues like insurance and joint ownership of property.
Over the years, public-opinion surveys have shown considerable support for the Virginia marriage amendment. Once it hits the ballot, Virginia will be added to the list of 40 states that have taken up the issue of gay marriage.
The exact text of the amendment can be viewed at: state.va.us