Constitutional amendment; repeals 2006 referendum dealing with marriage (first reference). (HJ55)

Introduced By

Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Constitutional amendment (first resolution); marriage.  Proposes the repeal of the constitutional amendment dealing with marriage that was approved by referendum at the November 2006 election. That amendment to the Bill of Rights: (i) defined marriage as "only a union between one man and one woman," (ii) prohibited the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions from creating or recognizing "a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage," and (iii) prohibited the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions from creating or recognizing "another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/11/2010Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/10 10100772D
01/11/2010Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
02/16/2010Left in Privileges and Elections


robert legge writes:

Just curious about why the Richmond Police Dept. is tracking this bill.

Equality Virginia, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Equality Virginia supports the repeal of the Marshall-Newman amendment which wrote discrimination into the Virginia constitution and expressly prohibited relationship recognition of any kind (including even domestic partnership registries and civil unions) for any unmarried couples.

Amy Henderson writes:

This bill would directly affect me and so many Virginians who simply want the right to legally codify their personal relation with their significant other. Please repeal the "marriage" amendment so that I may marry!

god-fearer writes:

Recent award-winning research by economists at Emory University have modeled associations between having a state constitutional - such as Virginia's Marshall-Newman Amendment - and additional burden of HIV cases in the state. Then economic model predicts 3-5 cases of HIV per 100,000 population in such states. Using this model - again, an award winning research paper by Emory University scientists - we can predict some hundreds of cases of HIV in Virginia associated with having this Amendment. What arguments for having it outweigh the arguments for not having it? The legal standard for reviewing the evidence on both side is currently the salient argument in the California Proposition 8 court case. The California Supreme Court, The Iowa Supreme Court, the Massachusetts Supreme Court had already previously heard the arguments and determined that the wanted to restrict marriage in those states did not have sufficient evidence to outweigh the evidence on the other side that would include marriage for same-gender partners. Every time the General Assembly is in session, repeal of the Marshall-Newman Amendment should be at the table, showing evidence for repeal, such as stated above.

Alexa Mavroidis writes:


Correlation does not imply causation. I haven't read the paper you reference, but I don't see any explanation for why these statistics are correlated, or what the methodology was in the study. (I note you don't even name it; that doesn't bode well for your credibility, whatever reason you have for leaving it out.)

I'd want especially to know whether these economists (who? Do they have particular political leanings?) decisively disproved that encouraging marriage would encourage people to be less indiscriminate sexually, by encouraging them to establish and be serious about exclusive, long-term commitments. If they did disprove that, I'd like to know how.

Also, even if they did, I wouldn't agree that it's the government of Virginia's place to try to curb infection rates by denying people a basic right that they should have had long before this anyway.

The funny thing about allowing people the power to decide for themselves what to do with their lives is that sometimes they make mistakes -- though, again, without any specific information about this study, how it was conducted, who conducted it, and why, I'm deeply leery of its findings in the first place.

Even if I weren't, though, it would still be no reason at all to enshrine inequality in the state Constitution. Doing so is simply morally wrong.

Constance writes:


I think god-fearer was trying to say that the study in question demonstrated that having a constitutional amendment prohibiting legal recognition of same-sex marriages is related to *higher* rates of HIV infections than are found in states that do *not* have such an amendment.

Still, you're right that correlation is not the same as causation. I would think that states that have such strict prohibitions on legal recognition of same-sex marriages, or domestic partnerships or civil unions between any adults, probably tend to be less concerned in general with accurate sex education for youth, public health programs, and the well-being of those who are not the empowered majority.