Press Room

April 21, 2004

Category: Civil Unions

Virginia Passes One of Nation’s Most Discriminatory Laws, HRC Says

'Denying Virginia families' vital rights and benefits is discriminatory and anti-family,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.-

WASHINGTON - A new law passed by the Virginia General Assembly is one of the most discriminatory and restrictive anti-family and anti-marriage bills in the country, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The law not only prohibits the state from recognizing civil unions, but it also outlaws "any partnership contract or other arrangements that purport to provide the benefits of marriage."

"Denying Virginia families' vital rights and benefits is discriminatory and anti-family," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "It will strip away important rights and responsibilities such as proper care for children when a parent dies."

"The lawmakers have codified second-class citizen status for hundreds of thousands of Virginians," said Dyana Mason, executive director of the statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group Equality Virginia. "We are not only disappointed, but we are outraged that short-sighted Virginia extremists succeeded in condoning discrimination."

On April 16, 2004, Gov. Mark Warner amended the so-called "Marriage Affirmation Act" by removing the "partnership contracts and other arrangements" language. However, the Assembly rejected those changes and voted to pass the original version of the bill, sponsored by Del. Robert Marshall, R-Manassas. Both chambers passed the measure by more than a two-thirds vote - disallowing a veto by the governor. The measure will become law July 1, 2004.

Gov. Warner told the Associated Press April 16 that the measure attempts to "violate contracts between individuals, whether they are gay or straight." He added: "The ramifications of this could be enormous in terms of their ability to break apart business partnerships. It would move
Virginia so far out of the mainstream that that's not where I think we ought to be."

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.