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Gay Couple Denied Marriage License at Arlington Courthouse

by ARLnow.com | February 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm | 6,260 views | 202 Comments

In a symbolic Valentine’s Day act, a gay couple submitted an application for a marriage license to the Arlington County Circuit Court Clerk’s office this morning — only to be denied because Virginia does not permit same-sex marriages.

James Fisher and Ron Bookbinder were joined outside the Arlington County courthouse by several dozen supporters of gay marriage, including County Board member Jay Fisette, Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, four local ministers and a local rabbi.

Following speeches and prayers outside, Fisher and Bookbinder went inside the courthouse to submit their marriage license application. Ferguson accepted the application but explained that state law prohibited him from issuing the license. He then promised to keep the application on file until gay marriage is legalized in Virginia, according to Elizabeth Wildhack, one of the event’s organizers.

The event was one of three such events in Virginia today planned by a group called People of Faith for Equality in Virginia. Religious leaders and their congregants were expected to witness several gay couples attempting to get married in Richmond and in Fairfax later in the day.

“These actions are part of a growing movement in Virginia to recognize the value of all families,” said Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, President of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wildhack

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  • CourthouseChris

    So much for that “Virginia is for Lovers” BS.

    Loving v. Virginia won equal rights based on race in marrage – when are we going to see equal rights based on sex?

    • SD

      The historical background of Loving is different from the history underlying the issue of same-sex marriage. The “traditional” definition of marriage is not merely a byproduct of historical injustice. Its history is of a different kind. The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. Courts should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted.

      • Tim

        The “traditional” definition of marriage, for the entire history of the United States at least (and Europe, too), prohibited interracial marriage. At first, slaves weren’t allowed to marry at all, because they weren’t citizens. When they were allowed to marry, anti-miscegenation laws seemed logical at the time.

        The “traditional” definition also prohibited divorce, and in some cultures, prohibited marriages between different classes of people.

        Also, “traditionally,” women weren’t allowed to vote, because the man’s vote was considered to be a vote from the entire family.

        So to say the least, traditions have changed.

        • Tim

          More about anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-miscegenation_laws_in_the_United_States

        • SD

          What hasn’t changed is that even with the various restrictions there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. If a state wants to change that definition through the legislative process or through a referendum, great. There is no support, however, that same-sex-marriage is a fundamental right afforded protection in the Constitution.

          • thecharlesriver

            There is no fundamental right to marriage between heterosexuals either. However there is something called the equal protection clause which stipulates that rights that are given to some are applicable to all.

          • Charles

            This is NOT a complete loss. One thing it achieves is documented grounds for a future lawsuit against Virginia. That will be a good thing.

        • TooEasy

          Marriage has always been a religious institution how else can you justify forced servitude aka. Alimony . What a bunch of ignorant weirdos. Rewrite the rules ALL OF THEM.

          • Ivy

            Huh???? What about people married at a courthouse?

          • Too Easy

            Are you implying that the rules of alimony are invalidated at a courthouse wedding.??
            The whole concept of marriage is developed around a religious practice and needs to be changed to be current. It is Slavery and belittles one of the participants at either its inception or its demise.
            The Gay marriage argument is nothing but an attempt to validate slavery.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        You’re wrong. Various types of same-sex unions have always existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions. Same-sex unions were a socially recognized institution at times in Ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China, such as Fujian province, and at certain times in ancient European history. These gay unions continued until Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

      • Ben

        Every argument I’ve ever heard regarding marriage has been a religious based argument. Which is fine – except the US is supposed to exhibit a notion that the church and state are separate.

        The state shouldn’t even be in the business of licensing marriages to begin with. It should be the church with people belonging to whichever one they choose and allowing those churches to recognize such marriages or not.

        • thelevyisdry

          “The state shouldn’t even be in the business of licensing marriages to begin with.”
          Thanks Ben, that’s all that needs to be said.

      • CourthouseChris

        “it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex” – how is this not simply a historical injustice? While this purported “accepted truth” existed, there concurrently existed lasting monogamous homosexual relationships – indeed such relationships predate the very existence of the institution of marriage – and span not just our own species. Your argument could just as easily be used in support of the anti-miscegentation laws, or even slavery – and is equally false on all fronts.

      • CourthouseChris

        Also, SD, to your “historical argument”, I encourage you to look up “adelphopoiesis”.

        • Bruce

          And you, Chris, might want to read this, regarding adelphopoiesis:

          http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=1294-viscuso

          • CourthouseChris

            Written by a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church… uhh huh, not exactly an unbiased source. Do you have anything from a real academic, perhaps a professor at Yale like John Boswell?

            Citing religious sources is not a valid rhetorical tactic.

          • Bruce

            Are you an imbecile?

          • CourthouseChris

            Hah, ad hominems huh? Well I think you made my point well.

        • SD

          Adelphopoiesis was certainly a kind of union between two individuals, but to make this institution equivalent to same-sex marriage requires a perspective and context foreign to the Eastern Church.

      • Alan

        They had gay marriage in Rome. Get off your high horse. Marriage as we ‘define’ it changes constantly. How about this. You marry who you want and let others marry who they want.

  • BK

    Onward Values Crusaders!

    • MC 703

      +1095

  • Louise

    So cool that they did that. Kudos to Fisher and Bookbinder.

    • nunya

      ditto!!

  • Curious

    What faith were the ministers? I may have to convert and join up with them!

    • BluemontFred

      One of them is a pastor at the Rock Springs UCC in North Arlington

      • BK

        Not too much of a stretch to assume one of the others was from Bethel then.

    • Son

      One was the pastor at Clarendon Presbyterian

    • Maggie

      2 of the ministers at Arlington courthouse were from UU church of Arlington.

  • Just Me

    I am a conservative but don’t call myself a Republican because of crap like this. Gays should have the same rights I have and abortion is a personal choice not the governments business.

    I hope I live to see the day gays are equal in the eyes of the law. They are equal to me.

    • AllenB

      I’m a liberal but you’re the type of conservative I wish we had more of. Thanks for speaking up.

    • SD

      You cannot be a conservative if you don’t believe that a viable human life deserves to be protected by the 14th Amendment, absent some life threatening situation facing the mother.

      And gays do have the same rights as everyone else: the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.

      • Vik

        Conservatives say they’re in favor of small government, but why do they want to dictate what individuals in their private lives and aren’t harming others?

      • Tim

        Similarly, under Jim Crow laws, non-whites had the same rights as white people: to use public facilities designated for their own race.

        • MC 703

          Burrrrrn

      • Josh S

        So sayeth SD, who invented conservatism and therefore is the one and true speaker of what it means.

      • James in EFC

        “You cannot be a conservative if you don’t believe that a viable human life deserves to be protected by the 14th Amendment, absent some life threatening situation facing the mother.”

        THIS is the defining aspect of conservatism?!

        Hahahahahahaha…

        SD, I don’t know who you are but I certainly know you don’t understand politics or economics.

        • SD

          James, I don’t know who you are but I certainly know that you can’t read if you thought my statement meant that this was the defining aspect of conservatism.

          • jackson

            There are only one way you can read “You cannot be a conservative if…” You did that yourself.

          • drax

            Arguing over the meaning of a word accomplishes nothing.

      • Cate

        Oh, I see. You’re that type of conservative that thinks government should be small enough to be uterus-sized!

        Stop. An embryo is no more viable life than an egg a chicken didn’t sit on long enough for it to hatch.

        • SD

          I never said embryo. You’re the one who used that term. I said viable, i.e., capable of living after birth. That can happen at approximately five months gestational age and later.

          • dk

            This is such a straw man. Roe v. Wade decided exactly that: a woman has a right to abortion up til the point of viability. Most Americans, conservative and liberal and everything in between and beyond, are opposed to abortion after the point of viability. The question at hand concerns the period BEFORE viability.

      • GreaterClarendon

        I’m a conservative who believes in pro-choice for abortions, reasonable gun control, and find the evangilical religious values annoying and intrusive as hell. Maybe I should just be a libertarian. I would never vote for Obama due to his pathetic views of “fairness” and rewarding non-producers in society – but not all conservatives are defined by stances on gay rights and abortion.

        • Economist

          RE: rewarding non-producers in society

          I know. The handouts to Wall St. bankers have got to stop.

          Too bad they won’t under Mitt, Newt, or Ricky.

        • Maria

          Socially liberal, economically conservative?

        • SouthArlJD

          I’m trying to see where President Obama goes around saying we should reward “non-producers” (whatever THAT means) in society. Elucidate please, with links to said “views”.

        • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

          +1. Thank you for being someone who judges the issues and not just pulls a party line!

      • drax

        You cannot tell people how they can or cannot be “conservative.” Oh, and this story isn’t about abortion.

        Saying gays have the same rights to marry the opposite sex is like saying laws against mixed-race marriage were fine because blacks had the right to marry blacks and whites had the right to marry whites. It’s simply not a response.

      • Max

        And if gay marriage is legalized you’ll have the right to marry a person of the same sex too. More rights for everyone!

      • PghBigDog

        AllenB can be whatever he wants to identify with. This is America, 2012, SD.

        Gays do have the same rights as everyone else…. to marry the person of their choice. Perhaps the situation would be more clear if you – presumably a heterosexual – were banned from marrying the person of your choosing and could only legally bond with a person of the same sex? That shoe fits somewhat differently,doesn’t it?

        The real deal is that ‘marriage’ in our secular society represents a binding legal agreement entered into by two consenting adults. ‘Matrimony’ is a church sanctioned spiritual agreement that is recognized by our secular society you go down to the court house and file the paperwork. Churches are not required to recognize marriage and indeed, some marriages are not recognized. To withhold the right of legal age persons from entering into a marriage contract is discriminatory and denies the basic equal rights and protections under the rule of law that are guaranteed under the US Constitution. “All men are created equal…”

      • dk

        So much for the Republican big tent.

        • thecharlesriver

          I’m not a Republican, however the Democratic “big tent” is also LONG GONE. So the old phrase about glass houses should be applied here. And coming from a Party whose members frequently tout their “open-mindedness” that’s hypocrisy at its best.

      • thecharlesriver

        Having the right to marry someone of the opposite sex when someone is physiologically and emotionally attracted to the same sex, is like saying that men have the right to an abortion.

      • Ra

        Gross for me as a gay woman marrying a man is puke-worthy just as it would be for a hetero male. That isn’t a right, it’s torture.

      • Ra

        Eww

      • April

        “You cannot be a conservative if you don’t believe that a viable human life deserves to be protected by the 14th Amendment, absent some life threatening situation facing the mother.”

        You do realize that this is exactly what Roe v Wade says, right? That states do have the right to restrict abortion in the third trimester (when the fetus becomes viable) in exactly that fashion?

        The vast majority of pro-choice people I know agree with this as well. “Viable life” is a very different concept than “fertilized egg”, which is where our legislators in Richmond are trying to draw the line.

    • Cate

      As a liberal, it genuinely warms my heart to hear conservatives have beliefs like yours. Thanks for speaking up about them.

    • South Awwwlington

      Add me to the list. Thank you for speaking up on this issue. If the extreme right hadn’t hijacked the Republican Party years ago, party membership in for DEMS and GOP would be a little different.

      Sometimes I think the fiscal conservatives wish they could unhitch themselves for the union they took part in so many years ago to become the “Big Tent.”

      So long as Republicans feel their place is in our bedrooms and OB/GYN offices, I’ll be firmly standing on the left.

      • thecharlesriver

        Both parties have been hijacked by extremists.

  • Always Right

    Why didn’t they drive into DC when they were marrying the gays?
    They just want attention.

    • James in EFC

      Of course they want attention…that was the point!

    • Burger

      Probably somewhat true. But so did Rosa Parks.

      I am certainly fiscally conservative and I have no problem with same-sex couples having a civil union, receiving all the same benefits a married couple enjoys including all the same tax penalties that a married couple has filing jointly. But, I do draw the line at calling it a marriage – because I do not think states should have any say in what is a marriage for religious purposes but allow any adult to marry another adult.

      Of course, the question becomes where do you draw the line?

      • Hot Dog

        So when the states stop issuing marriage licenses to heterosexuals, then we can follow your recommendation.

      • CW

        “I do not think states should have any say in what is a marriage for religious purposes but allow any adult to marry another adult.”

        Can you explain this statement? Are you saying that “marriage” is a purely religious term, not a legal one? In your mind, can atheists marry? I’m really perplexed here.

        • bj

          I’m confused here – why the legal document called a “marriage license” then?

      • DT

        So then would you be cool if at the government level, the word marriage is not used at all, but instead have all people, gay or straight, enter into civil unions? People could go have whatever marriage, etc. they want in their churches? I guess what I am saying here is, if you think they should have all the same rights just called something different, is it the word MARRAIGE that is so sacred?

        • LuvDusty

          In the rest of the World, except for the U.S., people understand the difference between a marriage in a church for religious purposes and a marriage in city hall for legal ones.

          Why are we so stupid that we can’t tell the 2 apart? And yes the other countries call both types of unions a “marriage”.

          Churches should not be forced to marry gay couples if they do not want to…BUT those same gay couples should be allowed to go to City Hall and get their piece of paper. End of story…can we move on please?

          URGH. Every American should have the same exact rights…that includes the LGBT community.

    • G Clifford Prout

      Remember, the same thing happened 17 years ago in DC when a few brave folks bucked the system. It took time, but they prevailed.

      http://www.towleroad.com/2010/01/marriage-equality-pioneer-craig-dean-wants-first-dc-marriage.html

    • SouthArlJD

      No duh. Why SHOULDN’T we allow gay marriage in Virginia? Everyone’s forgotten this issue is such a touchstone to our neolithic GOP that we passed an amendment to Virginia’s Constitution in the 2006 election banning gay marriage, and we have at least 3 statutes specifically prohibiting it and pretty much anything else which “promotes ‘teh gays’ and their ‘agenda’”. Virginia strives hard to keep the homophobia alive and it’s freakin’ annoying.

  • Arlington Cat
  • EPinBC

    Very cool. Good for them.
    When my wife and I filled out the form for our marriage license in Arlington in 1996 she wanted to refuse to select the “race” box. She said, based on “Loving vs. Virginia” that they weren’t supposed to ask this question. The person behind the counter said (with humor) “yes, but you won’t get the license if you don’t”. My wife asked me if I wanted to take it to the Supreme Court. I said “just check the thing”. Guess I’m not much of a rebel.

    • novasteve

      How on earth would Loving v. Virginia allow you to refuse to check a box? By your logic asking race on a job application should be in violation of the constitution as well , yet liberals like you LOVE that for purposes of affirmative action.

    • SouthArlJD

      The records are actually for vital statistics and not for discriminatory purposes. How do you think they come up with statistics for what percentage of any particular demographic gets married or divorced or how many marriages are interracial? That being said, the clerk was wrong to tell you that you couldn’t get the license without checking the box. You are allowed to say you don’t wish to specify your race and in fact I’ve seen marriage licenses which have this notation.

  • DT

    I’m glad they are keeping the application on file until gay marriage is legalized in Virginia. That is nice of them, at least they didn’t tear it up. Too bad the happy couple will probably be dead and buried by the time this state gets around to it. When it comes to these types of social issues, I find it hard to even get into the mind of a conservative. What are the “good old days” of America that they want to “go back to”? Days when women didn’t work? Minorities were treated lesser than? Christianity dominted all religions? What are they trying to “reclaim?” To me it’s just them wanting to get back to a time when they could do whatever they wanted and hold whoever they wanted down.

  • Garden City

    To marriage equality opponents I must ask, if something does me no harm but makes someone else better off, why would I oppose it?

    • Bur’ Rabbitt

      So by that logic we should legalize all drug use and suicide??
      The better good be damned, if I don’t think it affects me personally than its OK??

      • Josh S

        Hey Bur’ Rabbit – here’s your tar baby -

        Please define what you mean by “better good.” In the context of this story / thread.

      • Tar Baby

        Not “logic” at all. Drug use and suicide do not make someone else better off.

        Try again.

        • Bur’ Rabbitt

          For Tar Baby:
          Hey, You’re making a Value Judgement there aren’t you??
          You can’t do that for another remember?

  • Evolutionisfact

    I STAUNCHLY support the TRADITIONAL definition of marriage!! One MAN and MULTIPLE wives!!!!

    • G Clifford Prout

      Yes, that AND wives totally subservient to their masters err husbands.

  • novasteve

    Are you going to post an article about a 18 year old being refused beer at any store or bar despite being legal adults? nice you pick and choose which equal protection issues you care about. Impacts a large number of people? ignore it. A tiny amount, kick and scream to get attention for the issue.

    • Josh S

      Last I checked, Google Blogger was still free…..

    • SouthArlJD

      So true. I personally can see why refusing to let an 18 year old buy beer goes to the heart of that 18 year old’s self-identity and is every bit as crushing as being told that not only can you not marry and make a life with the love of your life, but that your love is illegitimate and immoral and its very existence threatens OTHER people’s commitment to the life partnership known as marriage. Snark.

  • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

    Am I the only one out there that thinks gay marriages are wrong?

    • Vik

      There could be other things that you don’t agree with or condone that are legal. Individual liberty is supposed to be protected in this society. If you personally think gay marriages are wrong, what difference does it make to you if other people are having them? An issue like this should devolve into a situation where there’s tyranny of the majority.

      • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

        I still am uncomfortable with gay marriages. I’m sorry, but that is the way I feel.

        • Parah Salin

          I’m uncomfortable with ignorance, but I see it every day. Deal with it.

          • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

            I simply do not support gay marriages. This does not make me ignorant.

          • DT

            Why are you uncomfortable with it? So because you are uncomfortable, a whole segement of the population should be treated as second class citizens?

          • Max

            I do not support religious institutions, therefore they should be banned! Love the logic.

          • Sherley

            I don’t either.

        • Vik

          It’s alright if you feel uncomfortable, a lot of people do. But, some people take that discomfort to extreme levels to the point of being oppressive.

          • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

            I don’t take my discomfort with gay marriages to an extreme level that is oppressive. I just don’t support gay marriages. I am uncomfortable with them.

          • bj

            Then don’t marry some one of the same sex – and please – don’t dictate to others what they can & can’t do because of your personal discomfort.

          • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

            I don’t dictate to others what they can do. I simply state my opposition to gay marriages.

          • Vik

            I agree. I don’t understand what having a personal discomfort with gay marriage has to do with whether it should be legal for others to pursue if that’s what they want to do and it’s not harming anyone.

          • ShirliMan

            You are entitled to feel the way you do, and you don’t have to support gay marriage. But feeling and emotions are not legal justificaton to deny marriage to same sex couples.

          • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

            Feelings and emotions have nothing to do with this. I do not support gay marriages and that is the way I feel.

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            Feelings have nothing to do with how you feel? Huh?

          • Max

            11th Street – If feelings have nothing to do with it, then why are following the way you feel?

          • Cate

            But WHY are you uncomfortable with them?

            I am in support of marriage equality, but this isn’t me trying to start an argument – just asking you to really think about what makes you uncomfortable.

        • SouthArlJD

          Then might I suggest that you not enter into a gay marriage? Civil rights should not be based on popular vote or degree of comfort around a particular minority felt by one of the majority.

    • Zsa Zsa

      If you think they’re “wrong’ don’t have one.

    • http://www.arlnow.com Lauren

      no you are not.

    • Maria

      No, but do you want to prevent people from having them because you think they are wrong? That is where the issue is.

      • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

        The issue is that gay marriages are wrong.

        • DT

          Why?

          • ShirliMan

            Apparently because 11th Street Resident is “uncomfortable” with it and “feels” it is wrong…no more.

          • CW

            But he will also tell you that feelings and emotions have nothing to do with this.

        • truth be told

          11th Street, if you believe they are wrong you are perfectly fine not supporting them. If there is ever a vote on them, vote against them. That is our system. I don’t have anything against them myself, but I don’t support them primarily because I don’t care one way or the other. Let someone else be a supporter who cares. Just realize your audience here is going to question you because most here will support it.

          • Maria

            You don’t support them but you don’t have anything against them? You are willing to let a significant population of our country be marginalized and degraded because even though you don’t have any problem with them having equal rights? Just trying to clarify.

          • Maria

            Typos – the “because” shouldn’t be there and I actually hate the use of the term “rights” since marriage isn’t really a “right.” Anyway. My point still stands.

          • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

            Truth Be Told,

            Thank you recognizing that I have a right to say I don’t agree with gay marriages.

            I have the right to state my opinion – I do not agree with the legalization of gay marriages.

          • Maria

            No one is claiming you don’t have the right to say that. You certainly do. You asked a question and people responded. Some of us responded with questions to try to clarify your viewpoint, not to demonize it. I’m still curious about your answers.

        • Maria

          …in your opinion, which is fine to have, but the important question you need to ask yourself is WHY do you think they’re wrong? Do you think they are just icky? Unnatural? In those cases, you have every right not to support them, but why do you want to *prevent* other people from doing it?

          On the other hand, do you believe they are harmful to society as a whole? If so, why? Even though I think that argument is nonsense, I can at least KIND of understand why someone would want to ban them if they truly, truly believe that.

  • Reverend Green

    I spoke to God last night. He said stop worrying about gays and start worrying about the asteroid. I said what asteroid? He said you’ll see.

  • SomeGuy

    We could solve this whole mess if government would get out of the business of condoning a religious sacrament, for both homosexuals AND heterosexuals. Civil unions should just be a branch of contract law, and in the eyes of the law, the thing we call “marriage” should be renamed and represent nothing more than an exclusive contract between 2 consenting adults. Which is pretty much what “marriage” is anyway. Everyone just gets hung up on the word because of its dual religious/legal contexts.

    I.e., want to get truly “married” or “divorced,” figure it out in church. Want to sign up to give away half your assets when a party to your civil contract decides to terminate said contract, let the gov’t handle that via a civil union contract. One should have nothing to do with the other.

    • novasteve

      Feminists would never allow that because divorce would involve equal treatment, and not the wealth redistribution system that it currently is if actual valid contract law were used.

      • PissedOffWoman

        Here, here. I got screwed in my divorce too. Damn courts favor the dude all the time. Gave him partial custody he never uses because the kids hate him and he’s a useless drunk, but used that to deny me any child support, made me pay him alimony for six frickin years, and gave him half the house and property even though my salary paid for it all while he ran around claiming to start his own businesses and failed because he was too busy drinking and whoring around.

    • Vik

      I agree with you, but I think there are people who are not simply hung up on the religious/legal context, but the context of two same sex people having some form of union beyond just casual partners.

      • SomeGuy

        Yes, some people would still be uncomfortable with it. But it’s just a contract at that point, and you appease (disarm?) the people who are worried about the “sanctity of marriage” when you force them to separate the church “marriage” from the legal construct.

        Despite being just semantics, using the same word for the two really clouds the discussion.

        • Maria

          Unfortunately, this would work for only a small portion of equal marriage opponents. Most oppose it for the reasons Vik said… they SAY it’s because of the idea of “marriage,” but it’s mostly because they find homosexuality icky.

        • ShirliMan

          I don’t disagree, but at the same time I don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to separate a civil marriage from the religious marriage. I was raised Catholic (no longer practicing), and I understood the difference probably as young as 5 years old.

      • Cate

        What do you mean by “casual partners?” Do you consider a couple that’s been in a committed relationship for years “casual partners” because they’re not heterosexual? Or would you classify every couple, gay or straight, that is not married as a “casual relationship?”

      • Cate

        oops, I misread your comment, so please disregard my response

    • Arlington Cat

      Marriage is a covenant, not a contract. There is a big difference.

      • SomeGuy

        I await your articulation of the distinction.

        • Gibby

          Not Arlington Cat, but here are some distinctions: While a contract is based on distrust, a covenant is based on trust between two partners. While a contract is based on limited liability, a covenant is based on unlimited responsibility. While a contract has limited terms, a covenant is intended to be permanent.

          • SomeGuy

            I understand your interpretation, and I’m not trying to be snarky. But in the eyes of the law, there still doesn’t sound like a distinction in terms of enforceability. The premise of my initial comment was to look at civil “marriage” from a legal standpoint and save the more faith-influenced concerns you mention for the altar.

    • Cate

      Agreed. I like how France does it – you have your civil ceremony, which is the one that matters legally, and is separate from the religious one (if you choose to have it).

    • SouthArlJD

      Actually, you’ve touched on the reality which is present day civil marriage. A religious celebrant can perform a religious wedding, but must be certified by the local circuit court to be able to file the marriage certificate with the court clerk after the marriage. Meanwhile, on the marriage certificate form there are two boxes, one for civil and one for religious marriage. EITHER one is a fully valid and recognized marriage for state purposes; however, the civil marriage has NO religious connotations and the ceremonies (which are purely up to the civil magistrates to put together) are secular and non-religious. The reality is that under the definition of some religions such as the Catholic faith, the civil marriage is NOT recognized as a sacrament. It is what it is, a CIVIL marriage contract with all the rights which flow therefrom.

      The problem I have is with the religious authorities who say there should be no gay marriage because such marriages violate their religious precepts, when the fact is that they already have the right to refuse to perform religious marriages which would violate those precepts and already do not recognize civil marriages AS equivalent to their religious marriages. In other words, if you’re from a faith which does not countenance gay marriage, then knock yourself out, refuse to perform a religious ceremony for gay couples. But they should STILL have the option of a civil marriage or a religious one with a congregation which recognizes the right of gay couples to marry.

      • Loocy

        +100

        What you just said.

  • Rev. Ensign

    Ron and James are ordained elders at the Clarendon Presbyterian Church in Arlington, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I am privileged to be pastor at the church, and was proud to stand with them this morning to witness for justice and equal treatment under the law. The action was coordinated with People of Faith for Equality Virginia and included, as noted in comments above, folks from Rock Spring UCC in Arlington, Hope UCC in Alexandria, the Arlington Unitarian Universalist congregation, and Congregation Etz Hayim.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      So much for the myth that all religions are anti- same-sex marriage.

      • Thumpin it

        Rev. Ensign is probably a very well educated, very smart and wise pastor, but if you study the bible, it’s pretty clear that gay marriage is not OK and that you’re supposed to actually, you know, do what the bible says. There is a reason that people are leaving traditional church denominations, and it is not because they are not “loosening up” on the heavy beliefs stuff. Most of the people who are agitating on here about VA condoning gay marriage may be technically correct about the law or the purpose of government today being involved with the religious aspect of marriage, but they also profoundly fail to understand what marriage is within the context of Christianity (which is presumably the context VA is applying here). When you understand that, you can still choose to ignore it and live your life your way, but I think that the current concept of marriage as VA sees it has deeper roots than anyone’s comments here reflect, and that is lost on most people and makes these arguments seem sort of petty when you do understand that.

        • Hattie McDaniel

          And if you study the bible, it’s pretty clear that men marrying multiple women is OK so we should, you know, do what the bible says.

        • Cate

          Putting aside all arguments about biblical interpretation and whatnot, I see a problem in that laws that are based in religion (marriage in the context of Christianity) are being applied by the government. That in itself is a problem, but as somebody who is not Christian, I take even more exception to being subject to laws based in interpretations of something I do not believe in.

        • SouthArlJD

          And if you study the Bible it’s pretty clear that all those people who work on the Sabbath or attend or watch sporting events on the Sabbath are on the straight path to Hell, pausing only to get even more condemned for mixing types of clothing or eating shellfish. Thank goodness they’re allowed to have slaves – including the sex slaves known as concubines – to release all the stress that comes from knowing they’re going to Hell.

        • JWF

          If you are talking about Leviticus, I’m assuming you don’t eat shellfish, etc. etc. It’s amusing how people who cite the Bible on this issue, find it so easy to ignore other passages.

          • Thumpin it

            I will not pretend to know or follow everything the bible says, but it’s clear to anyone who cares to study it (and it is not something you can figure out in just a few weeks) what marriage means in the context of Christianity and why the bible says what it does about it.

            If you are OK with equating commitment to a seafood dinner with commitment to marriage, family and the society that is founded on it, then you must be getting really delicious oysters.

            And, what is amusing to those who have learned to no longer follow their knee-jerk limbic reactions to questions raised about these issues is how people get caught up on things like shelfish or Big Love and want to use them to discredit everything else in the bible. Also how you say people who actually read the bible and try to understand and follow it, for what it says, try to pick and choose passages to apply. When in fact you’re picking one aspect of what you feel to be acceptance, tolerance or selflessness and ignoring some of the most fundamental meanings of those words as Christians know them.

          • Rev. Ensign

            Well-educated? Ridiculously, perhaps even sinfully so. Smart? Not so sure about that. Wise? I make no claims there at all, but I will say that I know for sure exactly what the Bible says about gay marriage: nothing at all. It says nothing about it because within the cultural context throughout the centuries in which what has come down to us as the cannon of scripture was written there was simply no concept of committed, faithful, joyous, creative, loving same-gender marriage. Of course, those deep values of commitment, faithfulness, joy, creativity and love were not the core values of marriage in general in that cultural context — and don’t even get us started on monogamy! Marriage was much more about property rights and tribal alliances than it was about the values we say we honor and celebrate in marriage today. All of which is to say that the most challenging act of faith is that act of faithful interpretation. That is nothing new under the sun, though. In fact, it’s exactly what Jesus did over and over again — every time he said, “you have heard it said … but I say to you …” he was engaging in faithful reinterpretation of his own Jewish community’s sacred texts. The only claim I make in all of this is the faithful attempt to honor and continue that tradition of reading, and to do so grounded in a particular Christian tradition that insists, among other things, on the rule of love in interpreting scripture: no interpretation is faithful that does not lead to love of neighbor and love of God.

          • Maria

            I’m not Christian, but I feel compelled to say to that, “Amen!”

          • Sherley

            the laws of the old testament were “overturned” by Jesus. One of the main points of Christianity is that you became free from following the law or rules, if you will. So all passages in the bible do not have equal weight.

          • ShirliMan

            So even Jesus thought that some laws from the past should not be applicable in the present.

  • Max

    Good for them. I’m still waiting for a couple to get married in DC and challenge Virginia to recognize their marriage. Denying that is a clear violation of the Bill of Rights.

    • Max

      Whoops, meant the Constitution. Full faith and credit

      • novasteve

        So does DC have to recognize a VA CCW permit according to your logic? can a 16 year old Virginia driver drive in NY State which has an 18 year old driving requirment? Or does full faith and credit only apply to liberal issues?

        • Max

          Uh, not everything is liberal or conservative Steve.

          DC has to recognize an out of state drivers’ license, though they won’t issue that license to a 16 year old who moves into DC. Similarly, Virginia is obliged to recognize an out of state marriage license regardless of who’s on it.

          • Maeve

            Unfortunately not, Max. Virginia passed a constitutional amendment in 2007 which said that they will not recognize any marriage or domestic partnership between same-sex couples. I’m surprised that someone married out of state hasn’t challenged it yet, but it is still very much part of the Virginia constitution:

            “That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”

          • Max

            Virginia constitution. US Constitution trumps state constitution always.

          • Maeve

            Then why hasn’t anyone challenged it yet? I know for a fact that Virginia does not recognize same sex marriage performed elsewhere. If you got married in New York, Massachusetts, etc, the marriage is not recognized if you are both the same gender, period.

          • Max

            I can’t speak for why they haven’t challenged it. I have a feeling it will be challenged eventually and, given the right circumstances, can be won.

  • Joe

    If you want to to protect marriage, then ban divorce. Seriously, put up or shut up.

    I can’t beleive this is even an issue. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married, it’s that simple.

    • BluemontFred

      Totally agree. The right is against same-sex marraige, yet they don;t ever say anything about divorce or sham marraiges and how they violate the sanctity of marraige. Its ok for Brittney Spears to get married for 55 hours or Newt to leave his sick wife, twice, for someone else, but John and Henry or lisa an jill can’t marry. Can someone on the right explain this to me, because it has never been answered.

  • pflagmom

    It was a beautiful event this morning — thanks to Ron and James for being willing to apply for a license knowing they would be turned away. I so appreciated their bravery — because even in a friendly environment, it takes courage to ask to be recognized as an equal member of our society when you are not so recognized. To the many clergy, to People of Faith for Equality in VA, to our gracious Clerk of the Court, to those who attended in support of equality and fairness — thank you! I dream of the day when marriage applications for same-sex couples will not be turned away!

    • novasteve

      When they get arrested for applying for a marriage license like how 20 year olds get arrested for trying to buy beer, you might have an argument. a 20 year old is a full citizen of the USA, but cannot buy a beer, they are discriminated against based upon their age. If they try, it’s a crime. It is not a crime for you to try to get married in Virginia.

      • Justin Russo

        Yes, minors trying to buy alcohol are so brave.

      • Max

        If you’re looking for people to fight you on this issue, I think you’re going to be disappointed. A lot of people don’t understand the country’s drinking laws, but for some reason it’s been decided that it is completely legal to discriminate based on age.

        But let’s not confuse the issue. A 20 year old can’t buy beer regardless of what color/gender/sexuality that person is. A 20 year old gay man can’t marry the person he loves while a 20 year old straight person can. I find that to be more discriminatory than the alcohol laws.

        • novasteve

          It’s still a crime to buy beer if you are under 21 years old, you get arrested, you get a criminal record that will follow you around a LONG time. You do NOT get a criminal record if you try to get married where same sex marriage is NOT legal. A gay person is still free to marry someone of the opposite sex, someone under 21 is still NOT free to purchase alcohol. When gays start getting criminal records for trying to marry you will have a more valid point.

          • Max

            If you give gays the right to marry the person they love, then you’d also have the same right to marry someone of the same sex. No special rights just for gays. No harm, no foul.

            And again, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Alcohol is a completely different subject.

          • Maria

            If you think it’s so similar, fight against the law… you know, like gay people are fighting for equal marriage opportunities.

          • drax

            Two gays who get married in a church but without a license and then assert their rights as married people, such as claiming each other as spouses on tax returns or insurance forms, will get arrested for breaking tax laws or for insurance fraud. So yes, you can be criminally prosecuted for, in essence, being married without a license.

      • Cate

        I’m not going to argue with you on the 20 year old buying beer thing. Granted, you’re comparing apples and oranges, but I will never get why the drinking age in this country is so high. If you can vote, get married, fight for your country at 18, why the hell can’t you have a beer?

      • Leon Pinata

        All those 20 year olds need to do is wait a year, then they will have the same rights as everyone else. Can’t say the same for all the gay couples wanting to marry, now can you.

      • esmith69

        “no-go steve” strikes again! Another completely unrelated rant to try and distract people from the main issue of the article…

        • novasteve

          You would make the worst lawyer on earth if you didn’t believe in making analogies to make an argument.

          • Max

            your analogies certainly don’t help your argument. So for someone who’s actually a lawyer, you’re doing a terrible job.

  • http://www.11points.com/Books/11_Things_The_Bible_Bans,_But_You_Do_Anyway Flying Spaghetti Monster

    America is turning into the land of the Christian Taliban.

  • Ivy

    I just love all radicals that say Government should be limited, but those same people seem to think the Government should decide if two consenting adults can get married, decide if someone should have an abortion, decide how a county spends its money, and decide if DC can spend its own money on abortion

  • Garden City

    All we really have to do is wait. Chris Matthews on “Hardball”, in a story on the passage of a marriage equality bill in Washington, mentioned national polling that shows that only in the over 55 age group does support for marriage equality fall bellow 50%, and in the 18-34 group, support is at 70%

    • Max

      It has a majority of the support in every state among young adults. In a few years people will look back and wonder what we were thinking.

      • Maria

        It always seems to work that way, doesn’t it?

  • novasteve

    Just so you guys know that even if democrats retake both houses of the state legislature, they still won’t pass gay marriage.

    • ShirliMan

      Yeah, VA will probably be one of the last states to legalize same-sex marriage. Thankfully there are people like James and Ron who will keep bringing attention to the matter and keep the discussion going until VA finally gets there.

    • Max

      Not immediately, no, but at some point people are going to change their minds if the courts don’t do something first.

  • dave hose

    I don’t understand why this can’t be done. Love is Love. here is my poem about it.

    Love is Love no matter who. We all need it , that is true. Some day when all prejudice is gone Love no matter what lives on

  • Move Please

    I see no reason why my rant against Nova Steve had to be deleted. I only asked him to move away.

  • Failed County Board Candidate

    Had I been elected to the County Board, as had been preordained because of how smart I am, I would require only gay marriages. Anyone who was not in a gay marriage would have to pay even more property tax and have to contribute weekly to my “affordable housing” slush fund.

  • lizdi

    I am glad that VA has not legalize same-sex marriage.

  • Charles

    The legal term is “mistercegeny.” Since there’s no “miss” involved as in miscegeny – which was outlawed a few years ago in Virgina.

  • hello, anybody there?

    I aggree with Jack McCoy; “Let ‘em marry. Why shouldn’t they be as miserable as the rest of us?”

  • Calabria

    Virginia: CINO (Commonwealth In Name Only).

  • Me ke

    So these guys want to get married? How does that negatively impact or diminish anyone else’s marriage? The request is not to force religious institutions to violate their beliefs nor will it ever be. Geez all this is doing is giving these guys a legal status. Even in doing so it doesn’t diminish anyone else’s legal status. In the states where it’s legal no one can prove they were personally harmed.

    • TooEasy

      Its Slavery anyone getting married is keeping Slavery alive.

  • Maeve

    All around us, same sex couples are having marriage/commitment ceremonies, having/adopting children, and raising families. And having been around many of those families, I have to say that the love and commitment that many of these couples bring to their parenting is extraordinary, perhaps because of the effort involved in making it happen. Those families, and those children, deserve all the legal protections that any child from a heterosexual marriage has.

    If my friends who have been legally married in Massachusetts for seven years were to come to Virginia for some reason, their rights as a married couple would be stripped away, and their children would lose the legal protections that, for example, would prevent one of their parents from kidnapping them, or would require a parent who abandoned the family to pay child support.

    The marriage haters like to use bleak statistics from single-parent families as an argument against gay marriage, as if having two parents with the same gender was exactly the same as having one. Ironically, by destabilizing gay unions and refusing to recognize them, they make it more likely that these unions might fail, resulting in those single-parent families with all the problems that result.

  • Jeff

    MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN!

    • Maria

      Ah. Now that you’ve shouted it, we all have a much better understanding of your ideas now.

      • Maria

        Um. Please ignore second “now.”
        Typos are not my friend today.

        • Maria

          *friends?

    • http://nelsm4517@mac.com 11th Street Resident

      Jeff,

      That is the way many people think. I agree and do not support gay marriages.

  • LuvDusty

    In the rest of the World, except for the U.S., people understand the difference between a marriage in a church for religious purposes and a marriage in city hall for legal ones.

    Why are we so stupid that we can’t tell the 2 apart? And yes the other countries call both types of unions a “marriage”.

    Churches should not be forced to marry gay couples if they do not want to…BUT those same gay couples should be allowed to go to City Hall and get their piece of paper. End of story…can we move on please?

    URGH. Every American should have the same exact rights…that includes the LGBT community.

    • TooEasy

      Except the Middle East , but I guess they are not part of your world view.

      • CourthouseChris

        Do you just snipe at minor points, or do you ever have anything constructive to offer? Nit picking is not positive participation.

        • TooEasy

          Is it minor someone is belly aching about equality by marginalizing a huge part of the world community.
          Sorry to offend your anglo-centric views.

        • LuvDusty

          The “Middle East” includes a lot of countries my friend. Some are very progressive and others not so much. I work with colleagues from several middle eastern countries and many of them are very progressive and in the large urban centers of many of those countries, views are pretty similar to those in parts of Europe and the United States.

          The fact that you just throw that out there tells me that a) you’ve never even been to that part of the World, b) you group all of those countries into one category as if they were all the same and possibly c) you have some sort of prejudiced view about people from that part of the World.

          Take a moment to speak with someone from Iran or Lebanon or Egypt and you’ll find a different, more complex story comes out.

  • LuvDusty

    And for the record, being 1/2 Uruguayan and raised in Brazil, I honestly doubt my views are “anglo-centric.”

    And yes, I can tell you to go to hell in 4 languages, all of which I speak fluently.

  • Civic Activist

    James and Ron have been together far longer than the average married couple in Arligton (or Virginia as a whole). CONGRATULATIONS !!

  • Keri

    Ok first of all lets refer to them in proper terms They are Human beings not “Gays’: they are just like you and I only they are attracted to a member of the same sex. I am a conservative but I am also a Christian and believe it isnt my place to judge anyone if they want to get married then so be it I won’t stop them and don’t think the government should either. Jesus said to Love thy neighbor he didn’t put exceptions in there did he?

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