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 that.”

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.

(Related: 50 percent of Virginians support gay marriage.)