The Virginia House of Delegates on Friday approved a bill that would affirm marriage equality in the state.
State Del. Rozia Henson (D-Prince William County)’s House Bill 174 passed in the Democratic-controlled chamber by a 54-40 margin. Equality Virginia noted the measure received bipartisan support.
“No person authorized to issue a marriage license shall deny the issuance of such license to two parties contemplating a lawful marriage on the basis of the sex, gender or race of the parties,” reads HB 174. “The bill also requires that such lawful marriages be recognized in the commonwealth regardless of the sex, gender or race of the parties.”
The bill also “provides that religious organizations or members of the clergy acting in their religious capacity shall have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.”
Voters in 2006 approved an amendment to Virginia’s constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the state since 2014.
The General Assembly in 2021 approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the marriage amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.
Democrats last November regained control of the House of Delegates. The party currently holds a 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate.
The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee earlier this month delayedconsideration of state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution that seeks to repeal the amendment. Henson’s bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.