But not just my questions, any hard questions about the Marshall/Newman amendment. During a live blog with Vivian Paige last night, our AG was asked several good questions about the amendment and it’s reach into the lives of all unmarried Virginians.
Here’s what he chose to say:
The General Assembly has placed the ballot question before the citizens to raise to a level of constitutional protection several statutory provisions limiting marriage to one man and one woman and prohibiting civil unions and similar relationships. The amendment was proposed in the wake of the United States and Massachusetts Supreme Court decisions which created a concern that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might be invalidated on constitutional grounds.
Opponents have stated that the constitutional amendment will affect the ordinary civil rights of Virginians concerning wills, contracts, and advanced medical directives, as well as weakening protections for unmarried partners who are victims of domestic violence. I believe legally this is absolutely incorrect. The General Assembly’s Privileges and Elections committees passed an official explanation of the Amendment with a strong bi-partisan majority, Democrats and Republicans, agreeing with that legal analysis. The central issue is whether marriage in Virginia should remain between one man and one woman. That is what November’s vote is about.
This canned response does not answer either of the questions he was purporting to respond to. Even the question from an amendment proponent that was designed to elicit this statement specifically asked him to address the impact on common law marriages entered into in other states.
The AG also refused to answer these questions:
How do long term gay relationships “threaten” anyone’s marriage?
Why does the amendment extend to all unmarried people the prohibitions on civil unions and other legal arrangements that currently apply only to same sex relationships?
Why are amendment proponents refusing to talk about the fact that this extension is a significant change to existing law and a huge piece of social engineering?
What are the potential ramifications of elevating a specific definition of marriage to the same status as the religious liberty clause in our Bill of Rights?
Do you agree that there is evidence of animus in the motivations of legislators to prohibit the legal recognition of same sex relationships?
And finally, the AG failed to answer Vivian’s very important follow up question regarding his earlier statements about the official “explanation”:
At the time the explanation was passed, the Washington Post reported:
Several constitutional scholars and a House staff attorney who penned the original language for the committee said in interviews Wednesday that they believed the approved language went beyond the limits of state law.
The language “carries with it some problems under the neutrality standard . . . because it argues points that proponents and opponents have already brought before committees,” the attorney, Mary Spain, told the committee.
“Discretion is the better part of valor here,” said Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond. “ . . . This could potentially be very misleading for voters, and that’s not neutral.”
You say the committee passed the lanuage with “strong-bipartisan support” but the vote was 12-6 vote (nays: Scott, Brink, Alexander, Sickles, Dance, Englin – all Democrats). Do you still believe that the explanation was neutral and not in violation of the Code?
As Attorney General for the Commonwealth, do you not have a responsibility to advocate for all of its citizens?