GOP lawmakers block Virginia amendments on marriage equality and voting rights


Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates have rejected constitutional amendments aimed at restoring the franchise to people who have been convicted of crimes and removing anti-LGBTQ language from the state constitution — meaning that Virginians will not be able to vote on the measures during the midterm elections this fall.

In Virginia, any amendment to the constitution must be approved by two concurrent sessions of the state legislature. After that, a statewide referendum is held and if a majority of voters approve the measure, it will be enshrined in the state constitution.

Although the Virginia legislature endorsed both proposals at its previous sessionrejecting the proposals this week means they will be thrown out and voters won’t have a chance to influence changes in the upcoming midterm elections.

On Tuesday, the subcommittee voted 5-4 to reject a proposal that would have automatically restored the right to vote of people who have been convicted of a crime and served the terms of their sentence. The subcommittee also voted 6-4 against a marriage equality amendment, which would have amended the constitution to remove any language referring to the state’s former ban on same-sex marriage.

Virginia banned same-sex marriage in an amendment passed in 2006. In 2015, the federal Supreme Court ruled that states cannot restrict marriage on the basis of sex or gender.

Of the. Dawn Adams (D), the first openly lesbian woman to serve in the House of Delegatesgave an impassioned speech ahead of the party line vote in which Republicans rejected the marriage equality amendment.

“All my life, all I ever wanted to be was married. And all my life, I knew that wasn’t a possibility. adam said.

“You really can’t understand what it’s like to grow up in an environment where you know you mean nothing to anyone,” she added.

Republican opponents of the amendment claimed they voted against the measure because its framework would allow the state to legalize polygamy. Corn the wording of the proposed amendment was very specificspecifying that the state would recognize marriages “equally before the law, regardless of the sex or gender of the parties to the marriage.”

More than a dozen advocacy groups, including a Conservative, have come out in favor of passing the amendment. Not a single group opposed its adoption.

Of the. Marcus Simon (D) called out Republicans’ decision to reject the Voting Rights Amendment “a really cowardly move.” Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) also spoke out against the decision.

“Virginians who have paid their debt to society deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box,” McAuliffe wrote on social media. ” We will not [sic] stop fighting until we completely overturn this Jim Crow-era law and make restoring the right to vote automatic.

Currently, the only way a person who has been convicted of a crime in Virginia can vote is if the governor signs an order restoring their individual franchise. During his tenure, former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed more than 126,000 ordinances restoring the voting rights of previously incarcerated Virginians.

“When people make mistakes and pay their debts, they deserve the opportunity to come back and be productive members of society,” Northam said in a statement towards the end of his term. “We can all be proud that Virginia has been able to offer thousands of deserving people the opportunity for a fresh start.”


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