Full Statement of Delegate Katherine Waddell (I Richmond City) on Ballot Question #1; Read the Whole Thing and Vote NO
Statement of The Honorable Katherine Waddell, Member, House of Delegates (I Richmond City)
October 25, 2006
As one of Virginia’s citizens who will vote on this issue on November 7, I am here today to announce how I will vote on this matter. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, as has been the case by law in Virginia since 1975 without contradiction.
But this amendment reaches much further than the marriage question. It not only outlaws the possibility of any contractual protections for domestic partners—gay or straight–but it also clouds a number of critically important issues.
Based on differing opinions among experienced attorneys, the possible effects of this amendment are at best unclear. This uncertainty in the law means that passage of this amendment will most assuredly lead to litigation.
Take for example the terrible circumstance of domestic abuse. As previously mentioned, in Ohio where a very similar amendment passed, appellate courts disagreed on whether unmarried persons can be prosecuted under or protected by domestic abuse laws. This now must be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Last summer, someone I know was stabbed to death in front of her children by their father. Even with the laws presently on the books in Virginia, we were unable to protect this young woman; we were unable to prevent this domestic brutality. We should be working to strengthen our laws to prevent domestic violence, not passing amendments that might weaken the laws already on the books.
If this amendment passes, contracts between opposite sex as well as same sex unmarried couples may not be enforced by the Virginia courts. Regardless of anyone’s views on marriage, why would we want to let government interfere with private relationships and contractual arrangements?
After reading and rereading Virginia’s Bill of Rights, I was struck by the sense and sensibilities of our founders—what they cherished and what they committed to in that document was the protection of our collective freedoms and our individual rights. This amendment would infringe upon the freedom of and deny some of the most basic and cherished rights of our fellow Virginians. This does not belong in our constitution.
The day after we vote on this overreaching amendment, regardless of the outcome, marriage in Virginia will still be between one man and one woman, but if we vote NO and defeat this amendment, we will have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of all Virginians.
For those reasons, on November 7, I am voting NO on amendment number 1. I urge you to please read the entire amendment carefully; because I believe that if you do, you will reach the same conclusion as I have and you too will vote NO.