RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Four Republicans joined Virginia Senate Democrats to support a renewed effort to repeal the state constitution’s outdated ban on same-sex marriage.
The Virginia Constitution includes outdated language that defines marriage as “only a union between one man and one woman.” The General Assembly must pass a constitutional amendment two years in a row before voters get a chance to decide whether to eliminate the defunct ban in a ballot referendum.
The 25-14 vote in the state Senate sends the proposed constitutional amendment to the House of Delegates, where it is expected to fail after the Republican-led chamber already voted down an identical proposal.
Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that banned same-sex marriage, which a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down in 2014.
Despite this and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that established same-sex marriage as a constitutional right, the language remains in Virginia’s constitution.
Concerns that the Supreme Court could overturn the landmark decision in the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, have grown after Roe v. Wade fell and Justice Clarence Thomas signaled the court could reconsider the 2015 ruling.
Last December, President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act to protect same-sex marriage rights. After a failed push last year, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) renewed his proposed constitutional amendment to repeal the defunct ban.
On Monday, Sen. Ebbin called on lawmakers to advance the proposal and for Virginia to move “into the realities of the modern world.”
All 21 Democrats present for Monday’s vote — state Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) was not in the state Senate — supported Ebbin’s proposed constitutional amendment.
Republican state Sens. Siobhan Dunnavant (Henrico), Tommy Norment (James City), David Suetterlein (Roanoke) and Jill Vogel (Fauquier) voted with Democrats.