RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) –Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government can no longer define marriage as just a union between one man and one woman, striking down a 1996 decision known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The decision left many in the Commonwealth wondering how that would affect marriage laws in Virginia, if at all.
“People are beginning to realize we are all human beings,” Guy Kenman, a 95-year old gay activist, said at Wednesday night’s celebration at the Carytown bar, New York Deli.
Karen Misbach and Jan Thomas decided Wednesday was the perfect time to get engaged, and did so during an interview with CBS 6.
However, even though Wednesday’s ruling is historic, Misbach and Thomas will still have to go to another state that recognizes gay marriage to have the ceremony done.
When they return, Virginia does not have to recognize it. Wednesday’s ruling only says the federal government has to recognize it.
That’s because the Supreme Court did not throw out a long standing provision of the DOMA that says states can ignore a same-sex marriage if it was performed in another state.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli emphasized that fact in a statement:
“Today, the court’s two decisions on marriage make clear that the rulings have no effect on the Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage.”
In order to change that, Virginia must amend its constitution, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Any change to that law however will be an uphill battle for gay rights activists. Presently, the House of Delegates is made up of 67 Republicans and just 32 Democrats.
That split is a major reason Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage and a nominee for governor in Virginia, said recently that the policy won’t change in his term.
“If you look at the composure of the legislature, it`s not an issue that I`m going to spend my time focusing on.”
In the same article McAuliffe is quoted saying the state would not be able to lure companies by “putting walls up around Virginia. We’ve got to stop this attack on women. . . . We’ve got to stop the attack on gay Virginians. We have to be open and welcoming to everyone.”
As for gay Virginians, they recognize they are a long way away from true equality in Virginia.
“I predict it will take at least eight years,” Jan Thomas said.
As for what conservatives think? Many are reassuring their base that everything remains status quo but conservative Delegate Bob Marshall disagrees.
“This is like the assurance Neville Chamberlain got from Hitler he wouldn’t attack Poland. It isn’t very reassuring. This is a preparation for future assaults on marriage,” Marshall said.