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Attempt to Repeal Virginia Gay Marriage Ban On Hold Until 2015

Senate Privileges and Elections Committee deferred eight proposed constitutional amendments Tuesday afternoon.

The Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee deferred eight proposed constitutional amendments Tuesday afternoon, including a proposed repeal of the state's gay marriage ban. Patch file photo
The Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee deferred eight proposed constitutional amendments Tuesday afternoon, including a proposed repeal of the state's gay marriage ban. Patch file photo

An attempt to repeal Virginia's constitutional amendment that limits marriage to only one man and one woman was put on hold for a year Tuesday afternoon.

The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee deferred that and seven other proposed constitutional amendments until 2015.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin, who is gay, sponsored the repeal and told Patch last week that he hoped to get the matter before the full Senate, if only to gauge which members were supportive and which were not. He acknowledged that it would be a challenge to get that far, though.

The long process to get a proposed constitutional amendment before voters in this state was cast as the reasoning behind Tuesday's move, according to legislative aides familiar with the action.

In Virginia, a constitutional amendment must pass both chambers in the General Assembly in two different years separated by a general election — and then the matter goes before voters as a referendum. Since delegates won't appear on the ballot until November 2015, next year was deemed more appropriate to consider any constitutional amendments.

"We knew this wasn't the right year, but we were still hopeful that they would take the bill and let it be heard," said Sam Bosch, Ebbin's legislative aide.

All eight amendments were deferred without any discussion of their merits.

Other proposed amendments that were put on hold would allow Virginia's governor to serve two consecutive terms, would allow the state Board of Education to establish charter schools and would provide a property tax exemption for the surviving spouse of members of the military killed in action.

Sen. Mark Obenshain, a Harrisonburg Republican who was the GOP nominee for attorney general last year, is chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee. One of the deferred amendments, the one regarding charter schools, was his.

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