freedom to marry week: Virginia is for haters

my friend kelly suggested that we all write about freedom to marry week, something which is happening this very week as we speak. as someone who married a lot earlier than she ever anticipated and who will be celebrating her 17th wedding anniversary next month (and 20 years together in may), i have had plenty of time to contemplate marriage in many ways. my kneejerk thought about the institution, of course, is that lesbians and gays ought to have the opportunity to experience the same misery we heteros get to experience.

::drum shot::

but seriously, i remember the first time i ever thought about freedom for gays and lesbians to marry legally. when i started work a zillion years ago at AOL, i remember the HR person talking about how the company policies considered people who had been cohabiting for a certain number of years eligible for coverage under an employee’s health policy. initially, i thought only of people who were living together for years and years. but then i wondered — was this extended to same-sex couples? i think it was, as there were several critical employees who i knew to be openly-gay and who were in long-term relationships with their partners. i remember thinking, wow, that’s pretty progressive in a work-for-hire state like VA 😉

and then, when i worked at another very progressive place, i was downright proud of the policies offered vis a vis GLBTs.

so it really smacked me in the head last year when the marriage amendment was ratified in virginia. apparently, we have a lot of intolerant people in this state (no surprise — they just assume arlington and alexandria fall off and re-join DC). borrowed from equality virginia, here are some of the delightful injustices allowed in this state. and i quote:

Virginia lags behind much of the rest of the country in the protections it offers its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender residents:

  • In 2006 Virginia voters ratified an amendment to the Virginia Constitution banning marriage equality for gay and lesbian Virginians, and denying legal relationship recognition for all unmarried couples.
  • Earlier, in 2004, the Virginia General Assembly passed the “Affirmation of Marriage Act” (HB 751) banning civil unions and other contract rights for same-sex couples in the state.
  • In Virginia, it is permissable to discriminate against someone in employment, housing, banking or public accomodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
  • Virginia does not allow second-parent adoptions for unmarried couples, leaving these families and children without critical protections.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are not included in the state’s hate crimes law.
  • Although it is inconsistent with the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Virginia still has not repealed the so-called “crimes against nature” law making sodomy a Class 6 felony.

Yeah, Virginia is for Haters, all right.

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