The Alexandria City Council has denounced a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define traditional marriage — the first jurisdiction in Virginia to do so.
“Such proposed constitutional amendments appeal to Americans’ prejudices and fears rather than to their higher values of equality and justice,” the City Council said in a ceremonial resolution.
The council, which comprises seven Democrats, said the amendment “intentionally discriminates” against homosexuals. The resolution does not take any official action.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman and ban civil unions.
The legislature must pass the amendment again during its 2006 session; then the amendment will go to voters for approval in November 2006.
Lawmakers who supported the amendment said Alexandria’s opposition does not change their minds.
“I don’t give any credibility to that type of thing,” said Delegate Richard H. Black, dismissing those who support same-sex unions as “hippies.”
Mr. Black, Loudoun Republican, said he doubts the General Assembly will give any credence to the resolution. “Across Virginia, people are defending the definition of marriage,” he said.
Alexandria’s resolution, which passed unanimously March 8, also urges the state’s congressional delegation to “pursue policies that affirm individual and family rights for all citizens, support local efforts to create inclusive and diverse communities, and create the federal legal atmosphere necessary for equality in civil rights.”
City Council member Paul Svedberg , an at-large Democrat who is openly homosexual, explained the council opposition to the marriage amendment.
“We wanted to send a message that we value and respect the diversity of our community and everyone that is in it,” he said. “We think everyone should have equal rights and protections.”
Mr. Svedberg said banning same-sex unions hurts the economy, driving away potential residents and companies that want to relocate to Virginia. “How will businesses be able to attract the best and the brightest? You don’t want to limit the pool of talented employees,” he said.
Several local chambers of commerce in Virginia opposed the marriage amendment for the same reason.
Mr. Svedberg said the council passed the resolution after Alexandria residents — homosexuals and heterosexuals — denounced the state’s actions.
State delegates and senators from Alexandria — all Democrats — voted against the amendment when it passed the legislature in February.
The ceremonial resolution merely states the council’s position. Many local government councils have issued such resolutions on political topics, including opposition to the war in Iraq.
In November, Charlottesville City Council voted 4-1 to urge the legislature to repeal a ban on same-sex civil unions. The legislature rejected attempts to repeal the ban this year.
In December, the Williamsburg City Council voted unanimously to add sexual orientation to the city’s nondiscrimination policy.
Alexandria added sexual orientation to its Human Rights Code in 1988, and council members said their opposition to the marriage amendment affirms their commitment to the code.