January 25, 2006


by PG

And not just over "the basic tenants of society," though I do wonder if the Washington Post has followed the unwise example of my undergrad paper and eliminated the role of copy editor.

Virginia's Senate and House of Delegates have both passed legislation to put a referendum on amending the state's Bill of Rights, to include a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, on the November 2006 ballot. Considering that the Democratic governor's spokeswoman says he agrees with this definition, the chance that the measure will fail does not seem good. Such an attempt is more likely to falter in Maryland, where the legislature and voters are more liberal. At the same time, the prospect of a judge finding a right to same-sex unions in the Virginia Constitution as one did in Maryland's should be more than enough bogeyman to get the voters to ensure that it doesn't happen.

(I call it a bogeyman because the closest thing to Maryland's "equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex" in the Virginia Constitution of 1971 is Article I, Section 11, which says that "the right to be free from any governmental discrimination upon the basis of religious conviction, race, color, sex, or national origin shall not be abridged, except that the mere separation of the sexes shall not be considered discrimination." In Archer and Johnson v. Mayes (1973), the Virginia Supreme Court stated that this language "is no broader than the equal protection clause of the fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.")

January 25, 2006 07:25 PM | TrackBack

" ... except that the mere separation of the sexes shall not be considered discrimination."

I can understand separate restrooms, toilets, etc. But what else does "mere separation" connote? Equal protection? Separate but equal? Think of separate restroom facilities in stadia, arenas, etc, where the ladies' facilities have long lines whereas the stand up guys' facilities don't.

The exception would seem not apply to same sex marriage. So we should expect Virginia to follow Massachusetts (its sister Commonwealth), as otherwise barring same sex marriages would be discriminatory, unless there is an amendment.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at January 26, 2006 06:28 AM
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