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Virginia marriage amendment opponents threatened with arrest

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's getting down to the wire in Virginia, and people canvassing homes in Warrenton trying to educate voters about the impact of an extremely restrictive marriage amendment are being threatened with the clink by law enforcement, citing an ordinance meant to deter sales solicitation. (365gay):
Police officers pointed to a town ordinance meant to control door-to-door salespeople. It does not specifically mention political campaigns, and it is believed candidates running for office have not been threatened.

On Wednesday the ACLU of Virginia began sending out letters to police chiefs throughout the state to make them aware of the rights of political canvassers. “Door to door canvassing for political and religious purposes is carved so deeply into the American landscape that one hardly needs to invoke the Constitution to justify it,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Supreme Court has struck down every local ordinance that attempts to interfere with this basic First Amendment right.”

...Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former US Sen. John Edwards have voiced their opposition to the amendment. In addition a number of communities and business groups, mainly in northern Virginia have stated their opposition to the amendment - mainly over its provisions that would potentially affect domestic partner benefits.
See a prior Blend post, "Migrating out of legally gay-hostile Virginia," for insight on the in-progress gay exodus in anticipation of the amendment's passage. According to the 365gay article, a recent Mason-Dixon poll showed 54% in favor of the amendment, 40% planned to vote against it.

Here is the language that will appear on the November ballot:
"Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:

'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.?"