RICHMOND (WRIC)—On Monday night, the Richmond City Council passed an ordinance recognizing same-sex marriage.
In a 5-3 vote, with one council member abstaining, the council passed an amendment allowing same-sex spouses of city workers access to health benefits.
"I'm very happy that it passed," said James Hill, a gay City of Richmond employee who is thrilled with the council's decision. "I think it's an important action to take to show that the City of Richmond is on the forward edge."
The vote recognizing the marriages of gay city employees is symbolic and won't change anything right now, but should gay marriage ever become legal in Virginia, Richmond will be ready.
At the council meeting on Oct. 28, about a dozen people spoke against the ordinance, saying it goes directly against state law.
"There is really no authority that you have to do this under the constitution, and simply to ignore the constitution is to ignore the oath that you took to uphold the constitution," an opponent said.
"It's really slightly absurd to be debating a matter that really won't have legal effect and won't actually extend benefits," said another.
Others lined up in favor of the change.
"Since the federal government and others are showing us the way, can we not be brave enough to be a leading city?" a proponent said.
"You have the chance to show your support and respect for all of our city's employees," said another.
The majority of the council agreed, approving the ordinance and making at least one of the city's gay employees happy.
"I hope that eventually these measures will allow me to make sure my spouse is taken better care of," Hill said.
Some of the council members who voted against the measure say they're not against gay marriage—just passing a law that can't be enforced. Councilwoman Kathy Graziano shared that point of view and abstained from voting for the first time in nine years.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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