Executive Director of State LGBTQ+ Group Attends the Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act

Contact: Narissa Rahaman
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Executive Director of State LGBTQ+ Group Attends the Passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, Calls on Congress to Take Further Action to Protect Our Communities

Equality Virginia celebrates momentum for LGBTQ+ equality in the nation, recognizes the lengths required to fully protect queer people in Virginia.

WASHINGTON D.C.– Today, Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia attended the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). Championed by openly-LGBTQ+ U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the RMA passed out of Congress with bipartisan support on December 8th, 2022. The RMA will maintain the status quo and protect families by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ensuring that all federal benefits are available to married couples no matter where they live, and ensuring that states give full faith and credit to all validly celebrated marriages. Effectively, the Respect for Marriage act will protect the rights of same-sex and interracial couples.

“Today we celebrate,” said Narissa Rahaman on the White House South Lawn at the signing. “But this initial step towards lived and legal equality is just that, a step. Our community is under attack. In the wake of a mass shooting in LGBTQ+ spaces, inflammatory anti-trans legislation being introduced in state legislatures, increase of violence against transgender women of color, and attacks on our bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom-we are calling for further action. LGBTQ+ people in Virginia deserve more than the status quo. We deserve the safety to thrive no matter what corner of the Commonwealth we call home.”

The RMA does not guarantee the right to marry. It makes it so that other states have to recognize same-sex marriages across state lines and that same-sex couples are entitled to the same federal benefits of any other married couple. Though the bill attempts to buttress key Supreme Court decisions, the RMA does not prevent same-sex marriages from being outlawed in states that currently have bans on same-sex marriage should the Supreme Court decide to overturn Obergefell v Hodges. Virginia’s constitution contains a ban on same-sex marriage despite widespread support of same-sex marriage across the country and state.

The Marshall-Newman Amendment, also referred to as the Virginia Marriage Amendment, is an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman and bans recognition of any legal status “approximat[ing] the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage”. The amendment was ratified by 57% of the voters on November 7, 2006. Although the amendment is unconstitutional and unenforceable since 2014, it remains part of the Virginia Constitution. But the Marshall-Newman Amendment would be enforceable if Obergefell v Hodges is overturned.

“We must send a clear message that Virginia can be a leader for LGBTQ+ equality,” said Rahaman, “In the 2023 General Assembly session we must defeat all anti-LGBTQ+ bills, remove the stain from our constitution, and protect trans youth. We can be a Commonwealth that supports LGBTQ+ people of all walks of life whether you’re a student or a senior. We can celebrate today’s step forward, but we are far from the finish line.”


Founded in 1989 as Virginians for Justice, Equality Virginia (EV) is the leading advocacy organization in Virginia seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. Connect with us today on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us at [email protected]