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City Council passes measure in favor of same-sex marriage benefits

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Monday night City Council voted in favor of a measure that will extend spousal benefits to the partners of gay city workers who were married in states where gay marriage is legal.

The measure passed 5-3.

"Basically we are trying to make a statement for the city and the employees that we have," Parker Agelasto, a city council member who helped pass the ordiance, said.

The ordinance however remains illegal under Virginia’s constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Despite recent federal changes, same-sex marriages performed out-of-state would not be recognized locally until Virginia law is changed.

Agelasto said the goal is to also extend the benefits to loved ones of city workers whether gay or heterosexual.

In September a small group of pastors met on the steps of city hall to voice opposition.

Tuesday, one of those pastors, Bishop Leon Benjamin  spoke to CBS 6's Joe St. George.

"City council doesn't really have the authority to pass an ordinance to redefine the institution of marriage," Benjamin said.

Benjamin suggested the move by city council will re-dedicate some religious leaders to educate their congregations involving the teachings of marriage.

"It is still up to us as shepherds to remain consistent," Benjamin said.

The measure passed with five votes in favor, three against, and one member abstained. 

Yes votes included Charles Samuels, Jon Baliles, Chris Hilbert, Parker Agelasto, Cynthia NewbilleNo votes included Ellen Robertson, Reva Trammell, Michelle Mosby. Kathy Graziano abstained.