Deeds Announces He Will Be Voting NO on Ballot Question #1
Deeds Expresses Concern About Potential Consequences for Unmarried Domestic Violence Victims
Statement by The Honorable Creigh Deeds, Senate of Virginia
Recently, it has come to my attention that va4marriage and other supporters of Ballot Question #1 have been using my name routinely in speeches, letters and OpEds to bolster their arguments in favor of the so-called marriage amendment. Since my name is being used in this manner, I believe that it is important for the voters to understand what I do and don’t believe about the proposed amendment and to know how I am voting on November 7th.
I will be voting NO and here is why.
In the 2005 and 2006 General Assembly Sessions, I voted for the proposed constitutional amendment that is now Ballot Question #1, because I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and because I accepted at face value the arguments of proponents of the amendment that the language of the amendment was declarative of existing law. I also believed that issues of such magnitude ought to be determined by the voters.
Nothing has happened to change my belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, and nothing could. Nor has anything happened that would cause me to question the appropriateness of giving voters the opportunity to vote on this question.
It is clear to me now, however, that the language goes far beyond existing law and threatens real harm to many Virginians and their families, among them the unmarried victims of domestic violence.
When this issue came before the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, I (and other members of the committee) questioned whether the Attorney General’s draft explanation of the amendment was either neutral or accurate in its assertion that unmarried domestic violence victims would not be left unprotected if this amendment passes. There was at the time, and continues to be to this day, pending litigation involving the identical language in the Ohio constitutional amendment, that challenged the Attorney General’s interpretation. The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue, and the legal issue remains in doubt.
While our courts would not be bound by the Ohio ruling, the fact that victims of domestic violence in Ohio have been subjected to an extended period of legal uncertainty causes me great concern. The experience there causes me to fear that the proposed amendment to Virginia’s constitution will invite the very judicial activism its proponents argue it will prevent.
A NO vote on November 7th will not change in any way Virginia’s 30 year old law banning gay marriage, and I would not vote NO if it did.
A NO vote on November 7th, will, however, ensure that we are not taking the unnecessary risk of exposing even one victim of domestic violence further harm because of legal confusion about the application of our 10 year old mandatory arrest law or the availability of protective orders needed to make home and work safe.
That is why I will be voting NO on election day confident that neither traditional marriage nor a single domestic violence victim will be harmed by the outcome.