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EDITORIAL: Wedding bells in Virginia

Sometimes the words don’t match the music

- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2013

The Supreme Court decision invalidating part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is sending shock waves across the Potomac. As one of two states with a governor's race on the ballot this fall, Virginia voters can weigh in on a real choice on the issue. The two candidates have sharply different views on whether there's room for not one but two little men on a wedding cake.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican, is an unapologetic defender of traditional marriage, and says he will defend it. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat, says he supports "marriage equality," and tweeted celebratory messages after the Supreme Court announced its decision. But when he's asked whether the ban on same-sex marriage in the Virginia Constitution should be repealed, he becomes evasive, like a bridegroom wishing he were somewhere else.

Mr. McAuliffe winks to the left without speaking clearly because he knows he's not on the side of Virginians. Mr. Cuccinelli tells The Washington Times: "This is basically a settled matter in Virginia." In 2006, 57 percent of voters approved adding the definition of traditional marriage to the state constitution.

Rules require affirmative votes of two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly to put the issue before voters again. "I don't see that happening," says Mr. Cuccinelli. That's because Republicans currently hold 68 of 100 seats in the House of Delegates, a margin unlikely to change significantly in this fall's legislative elections.

Gay-marriage advocates are playing the long game. Under the Supreme Court's new ruling, bride and bridegroom (or is that bridegroom and bride?) are entitled to government benefits in the 12 states that allow same-sex unions. With money at stake, they're mounting a state-by-state campaign to erase the traditional marriage laws in the remaining the 38 "no" states, including the Old Dominion. It's a matter of persistence.

Acknowledging that uphill climb, Claire Guthrie Gastanada, the executive director of the ACLU in Virginia, says, "We are working to see what the range of options are for us." That "range of options" begins and ends with litigation. Gay-marriage activists brought a Richmond man, Judd Proctor, before news photographers to lament that Virginia does not recognize his "marriage" to another man, which was performed in Massachusetts. He wore a laminated photograph of himself and his "bride" bearing the slogan "Our Massachusetts marriage should count in Virginia." Mr. Proctor threatened to move if it doesn't. (He's entitled.)

Some public-opinion pollsters say that support among Virginians for same-sex marriage has increased since the amendment was enacted seven years ago, but even if that is correct support for homosexual marriage is not likely to be a winning issue in the Old Dominion. Nonetheless, Mr. McAuliffe thinks he cannot afford to alienate his base. Hence his reluctance to say what he thinks of the Virginia ban.

Summer barbecues, baseball pennant races and thoughts of a vacation at the beach are more in mind for now, and politics can be pushed aside until later. There will be time then to weigh which candidate has the better plan for tax relief and improvements in transportation. On the issue of the day, Mr. Cuccinelli seems to listen to the words that come with the wedding bells.

The Washington Times

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