- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2004

RICHMOND — Freshman Delegate Adam P. Ebbin hasn’t wasted any time in speaking out for homosexual rights in the General Assembly.

On Friday, the Alexandria Democrat criticized a House resolution to urge Congress to propose a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as a union between only a man and a woman.

“Our founders and Virginians Jefferson, Mason, Madison and Monroe, they called for civil liberties and amended our Constitution only to expand freedoms,” he said on the House of Delegates floor.

The House approved the resolution 77-18 and sent it to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

Mr. Ebbin, 40, says he wants to shake the label as Virginia’s first openly homosexual lawmaker and just get down to legislative business.

“I just don’t think it’s relevant to how good a legislator I’ll be,” he says. “Everyone brings something different.

“What’s more relevant is I worked for the state government or that I know what the traffic is like near Potomac Yard,” says Mr. Ebbin, whom Gov. Mark Warner appointed as chief deputy commissioner of labor and industry in 2002.

That post deals with worker safety issues, and Mr. Ebbin was appointed because he was a longtime community activist, according to Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls.

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Manassas Republican and one of the House’s more conservative members, says he expects a “clash” on issues between himself and the new delegate. But that didn’t stop Mr. Marshall, an amateur photographer, from taking photos of Mr. Ebbin’s family during his swearing in last week as a friendly gesture.

“We have to look at this in a policy perspective, not a personal perspective,” Mr. Marshall says. “Just because we differ on significant issues doesn’t mean we can’t work together. He has one vote, I have one vote, and we have to work together.”

Mr. Ebbin, who represents one of the most liberal districts in the state, won a primary election and ran unopposed in November to replace Karen Darner, who retired. He points out that a section of his district, which includes parts of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, is the most heavily traveled bus corridor in the state.

His bills this session reflect his district’s diverse interests — from allowing children of illegal aliens to pay in-state college tuition to supporting telecommuting for state workers.

He views his committee assignments — Education, Transportation and Health, Welfare and Institutions — as ways he can help Northern Virginia.

Mr. Ebbin says he hopes the legislature becomes more diverse, noting that before he and Albert Eisenberg, Arlington Democrat, were elected this year, the House had no Jewish delegates.

Richard L. Saslaw, Springfield Democrat, is the only Jewish state senator.

Jay Fisette, an openly homosexual Arlington County Board member, says Mr. Ebbin is intelligent and will bring balance to policy making. The county official praises Mr. Ebbin’s openness about his homosexuality.

“I think of it as being honest more than anything,” Mr. Fisette said. “The term ‘openly gay’ means someone is honest about who they are. … I’m sure there are plenty of gay people in every legislative body, and the issue is whether they are open and honest.”

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