Public Service Announcement:
Breaking News From The General Assembly:
You or Your Priest, Rabbi, Minister, or Congregational Leader May Be a Criminal, proceed directly to jail, do not pass go, please pay $500.
This week in the General Assembly, seven members of the House Courts and Justice committee refused to protect religious freedom by changing a law that is exclusive and actually makes criminals of the leaders of many Metropolitan Community Churches, Reform Jewish Congregations, Unitarian Universalists Congregations, Episcopalians, and many others. They listened to voices from the Catholic Conference Lobby and the The Family Foundation who, despite everything they have ever said about religious freedom, urged them to continue to criminalize private denominational religious services because they don't agree with who the service is performed on, namely same-gender couples.
Members of the General Assembly seem to think homophobia is more important to defend than your constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion.
A couple of years ago it came to my attention that the Virginia Code, chapter 20:13, says that "Every marriage in this Commonwealth shall be under license." It seems innocuous enough, but as I prepare for my own wedding to my boyfriend, I realize that what I am actually doing is asking my priest to break the law. The law, originally adopted in 1919 during the height of misogamy for interracial couples, has just been upheld by a sub-committee of the General Assembly out of a new fear of same-gender unions.
So what exactly is the problem? Well, while some of us have had or attended "unions" or "blessings" in the past, more and more denominations and traditions are performing actual "weddings" or "marriages". Ultimately, the inherent similarities between a union and a marriage could potentially be construed, legally, as minor semantics, no matter how methodically we avoid the actual word, they are marriages in the hearts and minds of many of those attending.
The bill we proposed to the General Assembly, HB 1115, carried by Delegate David Englin, a hero to our cause from Alexandria, would have corrected three major problems with the law as it stands today.