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Republican delegate has legislation to remove gay marriage prohibition in state constitution

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Back in 2006, voters in Virginia approved a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. That part of Virginia's constitution was later declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. But it's still on the books, at least for now.

Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of it several times. But now Republican Delegate Tim Anderson of Virginia Beach says it's time to pass a new amendment to ditch the old amendment.

"It doesn't change anything about marriage law in Virginia," Anderson says of the legislation. "Same-sex marriages have been happening in Virginia since 2014. This is just getting rid of language that is dead. It is never coming back, and it is what conservatives are supposed to be about."

Delegate Mark Sickles is a Democrat from Fairfax County, and he says he hopes Anderson's support for getting rid of the unconstitutional ban on gay marriage might indicate a shift in the Republican Party.

"I welcome him," Sickles says. "I hope he is persuasive in the Republican caucus and I hope he talks the Republican leadership into allowing a bill to the floor."

If the resolution gets to the floor, Sickles says, he's confident it would pass. But that's only if it gets to the floor. House Republicans could defeat it in committee like they did in the last session.

Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin has also said he would introduce legislation removing the amendment, though he has also said it should be replaced with language enshrining same-sex and interracial marriages.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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