Sen.Tim Kaine among 1,000 celebrating freedom to marry at Equality Virginia’s Commonwealth Dinner

12th Annual Dinner Honors Plaintiff Couples Instrumental in Bringing Marriage Equality to Commonwealth of Virginia

For immediate release – April 18, 2015 CONTACT:  Kirsten Bokenkamp | [email protected] | 804.643.4816 RICHMOND – An estimated 1,000 guests including U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, Attorney General Mark Herring, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, and a dozen state senators and delegates, celebrated the freedom to marry on Saturday night at Equality Virginia’s 12th Annual Commonwealth Dinner. “Countless Virginians have been working to bring the freedom to marry to the commonwealth for decades, and finally achieving it is a huge part of Virginia’s history” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “From Attorney General Herring’s historic decision to side with the plaintiffs, to Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling the day before Valentine’s Day, to the rallies that so many Virginians participated in, this journey has been phenomenal and deserves to be celebrated.” The four plaintiff couples in Virginia’s marriage case were honored and brought to the stage alongside Attorney General Mark Herring. Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director and preeminent front-line leader in the movement to win and protect marriage delivered a celebratory address to the crowd and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine voiced his strong support for marriage equality. “With legal victories protecting marriage equality in 37 states across the country, we are at a historic juncture in our efforts to ensure all loving couples have the freedom to marry. The Fourth Circuit Court made the right decision in striking down Virginia’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage last year and I urge the Supreme Court to follow suit with a ruling in support of full marriage equality,” said Senator Kaine. In addition to celebrating marriage, Equality Virginia honored its 2015 class of OUTstanding Virginians for representing the LGBT community with distinction and for their commitment to moving the LGBT community forward.  Since 2009, Equality Virginia has honored OUTstanding Virginians at its annual Commonwealth Dinner. On October 6, 2014, Virginia became the first southern state to gain the freedom to marry.  The U.S. Supreme court is slated to hear four marriage cases on April 28th, which could ultimately bring marriage equality to all 50 states.  Thirteen states do not yet have the freedom to marry. “We still have a lot of work to do to bring full and lived equality to LGBT Virginians – including ending discrimination in employment and housing, and protecting our youth – but tonight we are taking a moment to celebrate all the amazing people and organizations who contributed to bringing the freedom to marry to Virginia,” said Parrish. The Commonwealth Dinner was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. ### Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.