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Virginia Constitution language banning same-sex marriage will remain

Voters will not have an opportunity to reject Virginia's unconstitutional ban on gay marriage.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that prohibitions on gay marriage are unconstitutional. But Virginia's Constitution still has language that explicitly bans same-sex marriage.

Eddy Aliff at the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists says Virginia should keep that part of the Constitution.

"We continue to stand for traditional marriage, biblical marriage," says Aliff.

Jeff Caruso at the Virginia Catholic Conference is urging lawmakers to block an attempt to ask voters if they want to remove anti-gay marriage language from the Constitution.

"If you believe as we do that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and that we should preserve this original design, please vote to continue reflecting that in our state Constitution," Caruso says.

Early Tuesday morning, a House panel voted in favor of making sure the Constitution of Virginia continues to reflect that view of marriage. Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg is a Democrat from Henrico County who says this is not just an academic debate.

"A conservative Supreme Court, like the one we have now, could overturn Obergefeld v. Hodges, and if that did happen then the Marshall Newman Amendment would be back in effect, right," VanValkenburg asks. "And we would be back in a place where gay marriage in Virginia was banned."

That anti-gay marriage amendment is known for its two chief patrons in 2005, former Delegate Bob Marshall and state Senator Steve Newman. It will remain part of the state Constitution until there’s another attempt to remove it next year.

The same House subcommittee also killed a proposed referendum on the automatic restoration of voting rights of former felons.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.