Legislators for Equality: Delegate Surovell

By Delegate Scott Surovellsurovell headshot In October, the United States Supreme Court refused an appeal of Bostic v. Rainey from Virginia's 4th Circuit, ending years of struggle to bring marriage equality to Virginia. This gigantic leap forward for equality finally allowed all couples the dignity to marry the person they love. For nearly two months, same sex marriages have been carried out throughout the Commonwealth. However, discriminatory and ugly anti-marriage equality laws still remain on Virginia's books. Keeping this part of the legal code creates legal ambiguity and uncertainty for families, continuing to undermine our reputation as a welcoming and tolerant state. State law has expressly banned gay marriage since 1975 after a Clerk in the State of Colorado began recognizing same sex marriages.  The Code of Virginia has prohibited recognition of out-of-state gay marriages since 1997 and civil unions since 2004. On top of this, Virginia passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2006.  The constitutional amendment didn't change the Virginia law - it just made it significantly harder to make changes. Public opinion has moved significantly and rapidly since the constitutional amendment passed. As of 2013, 65% of Virginians support marriage equality and civil unions and thirty-five states now grant gay marriages. It's critical that we take this back to the voters so that we can send a strong message to the General Assembly that Virginians oppose these laws and want the amendment repealed. It's time we move past this part of our history and remove state sanctioned discrimination from Virginia's books. That's why Senator Ebbin and I have introduced three bills to strike all parts of the code that threaten marriage equality:
  • Article 1, Section 15-A of the Constitution of Virginia passed in 2006 prohibiting same sex marriages and recognition of civil unions must be repealed.
  • 20-45.2 of the Code of Virginia passed in 1975 and amended in 1997 prohibiting same sex marriage or recognition of out of state marriage must be repealed.​
  • 20-45.3 of the Code of Virginia passed in 2004 prohibiting recognition of civil unions or recognition of contacts or contractual rights relating to same sex individuals must be repealed.​
I am hopeful that these legislative changes move forward so that no ambiguity exists about where Virginia stands. Our Commonwealth is the home state of the Declaration of Rights.  We cannot continue to insult our history by keeping this in the Code. It has been a huge year for marriage equality in the Commonwealth, but it’s critical that we continue with our progress.