The following statement can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia:
“Equality Virginia is disappointed in the passage of SB 236 through the Senate and now the House of Delegates. This bill could have the consequence of allowing students to discriminate against their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peers under the guise of religious freedom. As Virginia moves toward becoming a more inclusive and welcoming state for all individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, this legislation stands out as a step in the wrong direction. We hope that Governor McAuliffe will stand by his word to veto this bill.”
Contact: Angela Dallara, Media Relations Manager, Freedom to Marry, [email protected]; 646-430-3925
Kirsten Bokenkamp, Communications Director, Equality Virginia,[email protected]; 804-643-4816
Richmond – Equality Virginia, Freedom to Marry, and 12 other Southern statewide and regional organizations today launched a $1 million multi-state campaign to build majority support for marriage in the South. The new effort, called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, will include significant field and media work over the next year in partnership with supportive organizations across the region. Bipartisan co-chairs across the region include civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who kicked off the campaign in a web ad; U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA); and George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon from Texas.
“Our investment in the South comes at a pivotal time in the marriage movement,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “The South is home to hundreds of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples – and to a majority of the nearly 50 federal marriage cases now underway in courts across the country. Our new campaign will give voice to the many in the region now ready to move forward, including clergy, business leaders, conservatives, and family members, to show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.”
“Equality Virginia is proud to join Freedom to Marry and numerous other Southern equality organizations to move the conversation forward about marriage,” said James Parrish, Executive Director. “We believe in treating others as we would want to be treated. All loving and committed couples deserve to be treated with respect, but for too long, Virginians – and Americans across the South – have been denied the basic freedom to marry. It’s time to change that.”
Despite growing support in the South, Southern states continue to discriminate against the more than 200,000 couples and their families who make the region their home. According to 2010 Census Bureau data, same-sex couples raising children are more common in the South than in any other region of the country. A recent poll of registered Southern voters showed that support for the freedom to marry in the region is now evenly split.
The Southerners for the Freedom to Marry campaign launched with 13 honorary co-chairs:
Alabama: State Representative Patricia Todd (D)
Arkansas: TV producers Harry Thomason & Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan (D)
Florida: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R)
Georgia: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), Rep. John Lewis (D)
Mississippi: Lance Bass, musician and author
North Carolina: Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt (D)
South Carolina: Rep. James Clyburn (D)
Texas: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D); Mark McKinnon, Chief media advisor to President George W. Bush
Virginia: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D)
“Marriage is a fundamental freedom, and all Americans have a right to the same legal benefits and responsibilities that come with it,” said Senator Tim Kaine, who campaigned against a 2006 amendment to the Virginia constitution that banned any legal recognition of same-sex relationships. “I’m pleased to co-chair Southerners for Freedom to Marry as we continue to move closer to our goal of achieving true marriage equality in Virginia and across the country.”
Southerners for the Freedom to Marry is led in partnership between Freedom to Marry and the following: the Equality Federation, the Campaign for Southern Equality, Georgia Equality, Equality Alabama, Equality Florida, Equality Louisiana, Equality Texas, Equality Virginia, Equality North Carolina, South Carolina Equality, the Equality Network of Oklahoma, and the Fairness Campaign of Kentucky.
Friday was an especially sweet Valentine’s Day! Just a few hours before, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled that Virginia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. But, while LGBT and allied Virginians are celebrating this major step toward equality, this basic right will likely not be realized until the U.S Supreme Court decides one of the many marriage equality cases working its way toward it or the General Assembly and Virginia voters overturn Virginia’s constitutional ban on gay and lesbian marriage. This leaves many Virginians asking – what comes now?
Because the decision was stayed, lesbian and gay couples still are not able to get married here in Virginia – yet. If the case is appealed (which is expected), it will go to the 4th Circuit Court, and ultimately could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. This legal process could take a year or more. Now is the time to stay as strong as we can in our advocacy and outreach. Instead of idly waiting for the legal process to unfold, Equality Virginia will educate the Virginia public about why marriage equality matters – we will continue to change hearts and minds throughout the commonwealth. We will also continue to ask legislators to vote to put the repeal of Virginia’s marriage ban in front of the voters. There are steps we can take now to protect Virginia’s families today, including passing legislation to allow second-parent adoption.
Stand with us – invest in equality today. While we still have a fight ahead, there is no denying that this ruling is a giant step toward true equality in Virginia, and beyond. This ruling put Virginia in the position of leading the southern states toward a more inclusive “we the people.” We take that position seriously, and will not stop fighting for marriage equality until the day comes that lesbian and gay couples across the commonwealth are holding their Virginia marriage license in their hands.
The following can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia:
February 13, 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This is an historic day in Virginia. By sharing our personal stories and changing hearts and minds, Equality Virginia has been working toward marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia for many years. The ruling finally puts Virginia on the path toward allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry the person they love here in the place they call home.
I am proud that here in Virginia we are no longer asking if the freedom to marry the person you love will be a reality, but instead we are asking when. With this ruling, we are one step closer to gaining full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians. Today Virginia is standing on the right side of history.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of marriage equality! Loving gay and lesbian Virginians have never been closer to being able to marry the person they love here at home!
“Today in the Commonwealth of Virginia, love and fairness won. A federal appeals court ruled what the majority of Virginians already know – marriage is a fundamental freedom that should not be denied to lesbian and gay couples regardless of what state they call home. Although we believe that this ruling shouldn’t have been stayed, we are still one step closer – in Virginia, the south, and America – to recognizing and celebrating the diversity of love, commitment, and family.” James Parrish, executive director
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On Valentine’s Day, lesbian and gay couples will gather in communities across Virginia as part of Witness for Love.
These couples will be joined by affirming faith leaders and will apply for marriage licenses. People of Faith for Equality in Virginia and Equality Virginia will organize these rallies across the commonwealth.
Find a Witness for Love event near you!
Weather Advisory: With most of Virginia under a winter weather storm watch for Wednesday night and Thursday, POFEV is closely watching forecasts and getting feedback from local team leaders about Witness for LOVE! events on Valentine’s Day. They are trying to identify which courthouses may be closed on Friday and which communities will be so adversely affected by weather conditions that travel to an event will be dangerous. For the latest information, please check www.pofev.org for information about what the plans are for Witness for LOVE! events on Friday and when they will reschedule any events that may have to be delayed.
Albemarle County: 12:30 p.m., Albemarle County Courthouse, 501 East Jefferson Street, Charlottesville; Team Leaders: Andre Hakes, Rev. Melanie Miller, Amy Marshall, email
Alexandria: 12 noon, Alexandria City Courthouse, 520 King Street, Team Leader, John Humphrey, email
Arlington: 10:00 a.m., Arlington County Courthouse, 1425 N. Courthouse Road; Team Leader, Hazel Moon, email
Charlottesville: 12 noon, Charlottesville Courthouse, 315 East High Street, Charlottesville; Team Leaders: Andre Hakes, Rev. Melanie Miller, Amy Marshall,email
Chesapeake City:12 noon, Chesapeake Courthouse, 307 Albemarle Drive. Team Leader: Jim Whalen. email
Chesterfield: 10 a.m., Chesterfield County Courthouse, 9500 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield. Team Leader: Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline. email
Christiansburg/Blacksburg (Montgomery County): 2 p.m., Montgomery County Courthouse, 55 East Main Street, Christiansburg; Team Leader, Rev. Dara Olandt,email
Fairfax: 1:00 p.m., Fairfax County Courthouse, 4110 Chain Bridge Road; Team Leaders Pat Monahan & Gail Schulte, email
Henrico: 2 p.m., Henrico County Courthouse, 4301 East Parham Road, Henrico. Team Leader: Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline. email
Hanover: 1:00 pm, Hanover County Courthouse, 7507 Library Drive, Hanover; Team Leader, Rev. Cheryl Owen-Watson, email
Loudoun: 12 noon, Loudoun County Courthouse, 18 E. Market Street, Leesburg; Team Leader, Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, email
Lynchburg: 12 noon, Lynchburg Courthouse, 900 Court Street; Team Leaders Rev. Paul Boothby and Cecilia McBrien, email
Newport News: 12 noon, Newport News Courthouse, 2500 Washington Avenue; Team Leader, Rev. Andrew Millard, email
Norfolk: 12 noon, Norfolk City Courthouse, 100 St. Paul’s Boulevard; Team Leader, Rev. Mark Byrd, email
Prince William: 3:30 pm, Prince William County Courthouse, 9311 Lee Avenue, Manassas; Team Leader Susan Sinclair, email
Richmond City: 12:00 noon, Richmond City Courthouse, John Marshall Courts Building, 400 North Ninth Street; Team Leaders Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline and Rev. Jeanne Pupke, email
Roanoke City: 11 a.m., Roanoke City Courthouse, 315 West Church Avenue, Roanoke; Team Leaders, Rev. Joe Cobb and Frank House, email
Staunton & Augusta County:12 noon, meet at Staunton City Circuit Courthouse, 113 East Beverley Street, Staunton, and we then will proceed to Augusta County Courthouse at 1 East Johnson Street, Staunton. Team Leader: Linda Royster,email
Virginia Beach: 3:30 p.m., Virginia Beach Courthouse, 2425 Nimmo Parkway. Team Leader: Dr. Pamela Bro, email
Williamsburg & James City County: 12:00 noon, Williamsburg/James City County Courthouse, 5201 Monticello Avenue, Williamsburg; Team Leader, Jennifer Ryu, email
Winchester & Frederick County: 12 noon, Winchester and Frederick County Courthouse, 5 N. Kent St., Winchester. Team Leader: Rev. Robin Gorsline,email