Virginians Stand Up for Equality June 30

House Bill 751 to Prohibit Virginians from Entering into Contracts

According to a Northern Virginia coalition of religious, civic and community organizations and businesses, there is cause to learn more about and speak out against legislation that came out of the 2004 Virginia General Assembly. The “Virginians Stand Up For Equality” coalition claims that Virginia’s Marriage Affirmation Act (House Bill 751) is one of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation in America, apparently voiding private contracts between two people of the same sex (non-gay and gay).

The controversial bill, which goes into effect on July 1, says: “A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.”

David Weintraub of Loudoun County said, “HB 751 actually prohibits Virginians from entering into private, contractual agreements with each other. Yet, the Constitution of the Commonwealth contains language that clearly prohibits the government from interfering with the ability of citizens to enter into contracts; a right that was considered by our Founders to be fundamental to citizenship.”

He added, “HB 751 could harm any two people of the same sex, but it targets gays and lesbians. The ‘contracts and other arrangements’ regarding things such as property and medical directives that same-sex couples enter – to attempt to protect our families – are exactly ones that are automatically bestowed by marriage. I already know of people who have inquired at hospitals where they have scheduled procedures, and have been told that, because of this new law, their medical powers of attorney are unenforceable, and their partners cannot be considered next of kin. The same would apply to a couple that is only visiting our state; contracts entered into and valid in other states will be void in Virginia.”

Reverend Jeremy McLeod of Fairfax County (Wellspring United Church of Christ) said, “Many people are fearful of the impact of HB 751, want to learn more about it, and are coming to a 6 p.m. rally on Wednesday, June 30, at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway. The rally is designed to raise awareness about HB751 and its mean-spirited message. All are welcome at our rally.”

He said, “We simply want equality in Virginia. We don’t want Virginian residents and businesses to leave the Commonwealth because best friends of the same sex can’t enter into contracts. We want to stop government interference from deterring new businesses, tourists, students and families from coming to Virginia.”

At press time, June 30 rally speakers, alpha order, include:
Sharon Bulova, Vice Chair -Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Candy Cox, Board Member-National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
Jim Dyke, former Chair, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and former Secretary of Education
Hon. Jay Fisette, Board Member-Equality Virginia
Sophie Hoffman, Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington
Rev. Michael McGee, Unitarian-Universalist Church of Arlington
Rev. Dr. Kwame Osei Reed, Assoc. Conference Minister, Central Atlantic Conference (Potomac Association), United Church of Christ

Weintraub said, “Even (and especially) the most conservative in Virginia should be able to see the difference between banning same sex marriage and abridging the most basic civil rights of gay Americans, and recognize that the latter sets a very ominous precedent in governmental authority. Regardless of one’s views on marriage, this poorly written, seemingly unconstitutional and clearly vindictive law should outrage all Virginians.”

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