Three members of the Richmond City
Council have proposed an ordinance which would recognize the
out-of-state legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, defying
Virginia's 2006 constitutional amendment banning such unions.
The ordinance would also extend
benefits to the spouses of gay city employees.
“We wanted to do something that would
allow us to recognize same-sex marriage, because equality is
something that America is based on,” City Council President Charles
R. Samuels is quoted as saying by the Richmond
Times-Dispatch. “But this doesn't mean we are recognizing
gay marriage in the city, because state law doesn't allow us to do
The proposal is expected to be debated
at a September 9 public hearing.
Currently, 3 members of the 9-member
council have backed the bill, including Samuels.
City Attorney Allen L Jackson, however,
noted that a 2010 opinion by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli,
currently the Republican nominee for governor, concluded that
municipalities could not enact anti-discrimination policies for
public employees without approval from the legislature.
Victoria Cobb, president of the
conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, called the ordinance a
“waste of time.”
“It's unfortunate that with all the
problems plaguing the city of Richmond, the City Council is wasting
time on an action that blatantly violates the Virginia Constitution
as adopted by the people of Virginia,” Cobb said.
Richmond gay couples can marry in
nearby District of Columbia.
percent of Virginians support gay marriage.)