LGBT rights in Virginia
|LGBT rights in Virginia|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
|Gender identity/expression||Sex-change recognized for purposes of marriage licenses|
|Marshall-Newman Amendment limits marriage to man/woman, places restrictions on non-marriage types of same-sex unions|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Virginia face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Virginia. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Laws against homosexuality
Virginia's statutes criminalizing sodomy between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, "crimes against nature, morals and decency," were effectively invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.
On January 31, 2013, the Senate of Virginia passed a bill repealing § 18.2-345, the lewd and lascivious cohabitation stature enacted in 1877, by a vote of 40 to 0. On February 20, 2013, the Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 62 to 25 votes. On March 20, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell signed the repeal of the lewd and lascivious cohabitation stature from the Code of Virginia.
On March 12, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down § 18.2-361, the crimes against nature stature. On March 26, 2013, Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli filed a petition to have the case reheard en banc, but the Court denied the request on April 10, 2013, with none of its 15 judges supporting the request. On June 25, Cuccinelli filed a petition for certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision, which was rejected on October 7.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Virginia voters ratified a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman in November 2006. The state recognizes no other same-sex relationship. The same definitions and restrictions appear in state statutes.
Marshall-Newman Amendment also prohibits the Commonwealth of Virginia and its political subdivisions, such as counties and independent cities, from creating or recognize any legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals, such as domestic partnership benefits.
Virginia has extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples through a designated visitor statute.
In December 2009, Governor Tim Kaine had started a process which would extend Virginia employee health benefits to same-sex partners. At McDonnell's request, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion that this change to the coverage of the state's health plan could not be made without explicit legislation authorizing it, thereby halting the administrative process to make the change. However, McDonnell did sign a law which would allow Virginia employers to offer private insurance coverage for employees' same-sex partners, after the bill passed with bipartisan support.
On July 18, 2013, a couple filed a lawsuit in federal court (eastern district) challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. On September 30, the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced it has joined the Bostic v. Rainey case with Theodore Olson and David Boies as lawyers.
On August 1, 2013, two same-sex couples, one of which married in the District of Columbia in 2011, filed a lawsuit in federal court (western district) represented by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. They challenged both the state's denial of marriage to same-sex couples and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The suit asked the court to recognize it as a class action on behalf of all same-sex couples in Virginia who seek to marry or have married elsewhere.
Adoption and parenting
Virginia allows single persons and opposite-sex married couples to adopt children. The state has no explicit prohibition on adoption by same-sex couples or second-parent adoptions.
On April 20, 2011, the State Board of Social Services voted 7-2 against rules that would have prohibited discrimination in adoptions "on the basis of gender, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, family status, race, color or national origin." Members cited the advice of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the rules under consideration violated state law.
Virginia law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. After winning the 2013 Virginia Governor election, Terry McAuliffe said he would sign on day one of his Governorship, an executive order prohibiting discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity in state employment.
Previously, in 2005, under Governor Mark Warner, he extended protections for state employees by prohibiting discrimination in sexual orientation by executive order. This executive order continued under Governor Tim Kaine, however when Governor Bob McDonnell came into office in 2010, he enacted an executive order that took sexual orientation out of the list of things that a state worker cannot be discriminated against. Since then the Virginia State Senate has passed legislation that would prohibit the state government from discriminating against its employees based on sexual orientation in 2010, 2011, and 2013, however each time the bills had died in committee without a vote in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Northern Virginia counties of Arlington and Fairfax along with the independent cities of Alexandria, Charlottesville, Falls Church, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation only. Loudoun County prohibits discrimination in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity. All public universities in the state have non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
Virginia's hate crime laws address violence based on race, religious conviction, color or national origin, but not on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A May 2011, Washington Post poll found that 47% of Virginians favored the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 43% opposed it and 10% had no opinion. It found 55% favored allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, while 35% opposed that and 10% had no opinion. The same poll found that 64% of residents from Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria, and Fairfax support same-sex marriage; 63% of residents from the counties of Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, Fauquier, Culpeper, Madison, Rappahannock, Clarke, and Frederick, as well as the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester support same-sex marriage, while only 42% of the rest of Virginia supports same-sex marriage.
A July 2011, Public Policy Polling survey found that 35% of Virginia voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 52% thought it should be illegal and 14% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 65% of Virginia voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 32% supporting same-sex marriage, 33% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 33% favoring no legal recognition and 2% not sure.
A December 2011, Public Policy Polling survey found that 34% of Virginia voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 53% thought it should be illegal and 13% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 59% of Virginia voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 31% supporting same-sex marriage, 28% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 38% favoring no legal recognition and 3% not sure.
A May 2012, Public Policy Polling survey found that 41% of Virginia voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 50% thought it should be illegal. 9% were not sure. When civil unions were thrown into the mix, 65% of voters favored some form of legal recognition for gay couples.
A June 2012, Washington Post poll found that 49% of Virginians favored the legalization of same-sex marriage, while 40% opposed it and 11% had no opinion.
A Washington Post poll taken between April and May 2013, found that 56% of registered voters thought same-sex marriage should be legal, while only 33 percent thought it should be illegal, and 10% had no opinion.
A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Target Point Consulting poll taken in June 2013 found that 55% of Virginians support same-sex marriage. Among respondents below the age of 30, support is at 71%.
A July 2013, Quinnipiac poll found that 50% of Virginians support same-sex marriage while 43% oppose it.
A September 2013 poll found 55% of Virginia residents support gay marriage, while 37% oppose it.
An October 2013 poll by Christopher Newport University found that 56% of likely voters oppose the ban on same-sex marriage, compared to 36% who favor it.
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