Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
State politicians’ reactions on Supreme Court same-sex marriage rulings
The Supreme Court today issued decision in two same-sex marriage cases. You can read more about the impact on Virginia’s laws here – essentially, the rulings, especially the one striking down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, have little impact on Virginia’s constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.
Politicians in Virginia have been sending out a flurry of statements:
From Sen. Tim Kaine:
“Today’s Supreme Court decisions are an enormous victory for thousands of committed couples and their families across the country and a major step toward marriage equality. In ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Court has affirmed the principle that every legally married couple has the same right to equal benefits and responsibilities. I stand with same-sex couples and their loved ones in applauding the decision to affirm the equal treatment of all married couples under the law.”
From Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor:
“The House defended this law, which passed with a large bipartisan coalition and was signed by President Clinton, because courts should determine the constitutionality of laws, not presidents. I’m disappointed in this decision, and the marriage debate will continue in the states.”
From Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli:
“Virginia has followed the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman for more than 400 years, and Virginians voted overwhelmingly to add this traditional definition to their constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision in California’s Proposition 8 case could have had implications for all states with marriage laws similar to California’s. As the attorney general’s legal duty is to vigorously defend Virginia’s laws when they are challenged, he filed a brief with the Supreme Court in conjunction with several other states in the California case and used every available legal argument to defend Virginia’s Constitution and preserve the will of the citizens of the commonwealth.
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.
Consistent with the duties of the attorney general, this office will continue to defend challenges to the constitution and the laws of Virginia.”
From Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe:
“I applaud the Supreme Court for their decision today because everyone should be treated equally. While I support marriage equality, I understand that this is an issue that Virginians of goodwill come down on both sides of. This decision moves our nation in the right direction, but there is more to be done to ensure we have equality for all.
“My opponent has spent his career putting up walls around Virginia and telling gay Virginians that they’re not welcome. He even went so far as to order public colleges and universities to remove protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation for faculty and students. We must make Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family, and there is no place in our future for intolerance or discriminatory rhetoric.”
From President Barack Obama:
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.
From Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Sen. Ralph Northam:
“I applaud the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of marriage equality and for seeing the Defense of Marriage Act for what it is: a divisive policy that unjustly discriminates against millions of Americans. I am running to put a stop to the divisive agenda that has been a roadblock to progress here in Virginia, and as Lieutenant Governor I will work to further the cause of equality because discrimination has no place in our Commonwealth.”
“Unfortunately, Mark Obenshain continues to oppose marriage equality and has consistently opposed efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation in our state government. When it comes to equality, Mark Obenshain, like his ticket mates Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson, is far outside the mainstream.
“As Attorney General, I will protect the civil rights of all Virginians and use the powers of the office to promote equality while we work to change Virginia’s current law which prohibits same-sex marriage.”