Blogging the Amendment

Offering a Forum to Discuss the Pros and Cons of the Marshall/Newman Amendment


This blog is offered as a forum for exchanging information and opinons about the proposed Marshall/Newman Amendment that would amend the Virginia bill of rights to define marriage and impose restrictions on all unmarried relationships.  While sponsored by The Commonwealth Coalition and moderated by The Coalition's campaign manager, Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, the blog is open to constructive comments from people on both sides of the issue.


  1. My recent case against my 10 year partner asking for an equitable settlement of the businesses we had built together and return of the considerable cash I donated to the purchase of our home (In her name, of course)was dismissed without being heard. The judge sniffed out the Lesbian connotations, declared it a “Marriage” and refused to hear it. How can this happen? I am ruined! I need to appeal this unfair decision, but now am broke and have no more money to pay lawyers. I was a slave for 10 years in 2006 USA. How can this be allowed?

    Comment by Dorothy J. Martin | October 29, 2006 | Reply

  2. [Last week I submitted the following to the Times-Dispatch which has not yet published it.]
    Proponents of the so-called Marriage Amendment claim that its passage will preserve traditional marriage “from attack” and protect Virginia’s existing statutes prohibiting same-sex marriage. But have those statutes actually accomplished their purpose? If so, one would expect to see a reduction in the number of divorces, or a reduction in the number of non-married households in Virginia.

    According to the 2000 Census, the number of opposite-sex un-married partnered households was 112,563, or 7.3% of all households in Virginia. The number of dreaded same-sex households was 13,802 – less than one percent (0.9%). As of 2003, the percentage of persons in Virginia in same sex couples was even smaller, 0.39%).

    According to the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey (ACS), the number of all non-married households grew from 898,900 in 2003 to 950,722 in 2005. Subtract out the substantial number of persons living alone, and you still get an increase in non-family households made up of more than one person: 171,718 in 2003 to 175,485 in 2005.

    Virginia’s original statute prohibiting same-sex marriage was passed in 1975. And Virginia’s “Marriage Affirmation Act,” was passed in 2004 to reflect provisions of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act.” What has happened since then? The total number of unmarried households in Virginia has gone up. And the number of opposite-sex unmarried households has gone up with them. Oops. And those trends are the fault of the tiny fraction (0.39%) of Virginia’s population who live as same-sex couples? Oh, please.

    What about divorce? From 2003 to 2005, the number of divorces exceeded 29,000 a year in Virginia, according to the National Vital Statistics report (Vol. 54 #20, 7-01-06). Prohibiting same-sex marriage or civil unions hasn’t made much of a dent in that unfortunate statistic.

    The 2005 ACS reports that there are 290,614 separated or divorced males over the age of 15 running around loose in Virginia. Presumably, at least 90-95% of them are heterosexual. Don’t tell me that all those guys were influenced by the “gay agenda.”

    What’s the bottom line here? The so-called Marriage Amendment is being promoted to protect a marriage policy that doesn’t work. Yes, it prevents same-sex marriages and civil unions. But not surprisingly, that policy, which is focused on just 0.39% of Virgnia’s population, has proven completely ineffective at reducing the number of non-married opposite-sex households or significantly reducing the number of divorces in Virginia. What sense does that make?

    Is the policy fair? The proposed amendment is not simply a harmless little opinion survey on your preferred definition of marriage. The second and third clauses of the amendment expressly take away actual rights from some of our fellow citizens, who are no different than the rest of us, except for whom they sleep with. What if you were born with one blue eye and one green eye, and the General Statutes and the Constitution prohibited you from getting married or entering into a civil union because of it? Would you consider that fair?

    Why would any reasonable person vote to enshrine a demonstrably ineffective, patently discriminatory policy in the Virgnia Bill of Rights? Beats me.

    Comment by Robert Anthony | October 30, 2006 | Reply

  3. OK. We lost. But, 57% isn’t the 70+% a defense-of-marriage amendment passed by two years ago in Georgia. It’s just a 7% margin. What needs to happen now is a five year plan of repeal. The Volstead Amendment lasted only 4 years in the federal constitution and the US Constitution is harder to amend than the VA constitution. We need to launch a campaign that will collect and keep in front of the voters the human toll of the amendment–what happens to people when the legislature cannot create civil marriage or civil union or expand domestic partnership. Every custody battle, contested will, items such as the first comment in this group, contested domestic abuse prosecutions and, God forbid, attempts to roll back domestic partnership benefits. The outfall from this needs to be kept a visible issue with the tagline “Is this what you intended?”. But we have to take the long view. This won’t be fixed next year or in two years. You have to wait until public sentiment catches up, but you can also help it catch up. I would oppose any challenge to the US Constitution of the amendment. You have to let the voters get there on their own for the issue to really die. You might win a challenge based on the US Constitution, but you run the risk of losing in the court of public opinion.

    Comment by Tim | November 8, 2006 | Reply

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