Since that number is so close to the partisan split in the house, one might expect it was a party-line vote, but 20 delegates voted opposite to the majority of their parties. 10 Democrats voted with the majority of Republicans supporting the plate, and 10 Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in standing against the plate, which many supporters of equal rights for all Virginians consider a thinly-veiled slogan in opposition to equal rights for gay Virginians.
More on the vote after the jump.
One interesting twist this week was Delegate Brian Moran's attempt to amend HB1660 to remove the word "traditional". Until 1967, Virginia's marriage "traditions" included laws preventing interracial marriage. In this context, a different plate, one commemorating the decision of Loving v. Virginia, which freed Virginians from anti-miscegenation laws, would be far more fitting and appropriate. More after the jump.
lie - sheToday's Vote on HB1660: Who To Thank, Who To Spank...Verbally, of course
Democrats voting for the plates were Armstrong (Martinsville), Barlow (Smithfield), Councill (Franklin), Hall (Richmond - House Minority Leader), Howell (Norfolk), Joannou (Portsmouth - who for some reason does not accept constituent email), Johnson (Abingdon), Pollard (White Stone), Stump (Oakwood), Ware (Roanoke).
Republicans voting against the "Traditional Marriage" plates were Albo (Springfield), Dillard (Fairfax), May (Leesburg), Morgan (Gloucester), Purkey (Virginia Beach), Rust (Herndon), Suit (Virginia Beach), Tata (Virginia Beach), Wardrup (Virginia Beach), and Ware (Powhatan).
The Democrats and Republicans who opposed the bill should be commended. It's possible that some of the Democrats who voted for the "traditional marriage" plates were not aware of the controversial "traditions" of marriage in Virginia. Perhaps the information below will be helpful in educating them as well as the Senators who will now be voting on this bill.
"Traditional" Not Something to Celebrate in Virginia
Delegate Brian Moran of Alexandria introduced an amendment to the bill yesterday, seeking to remove the word "Traditional" from the design of the proposed license plate.
After all, what "traditional marriage" are these people supporting? The "traditional marriage" in Virginia under which, until 1967, interracial marriage was illegal? In that context, celebrating "traditional marriage" in Virginia is actually quite offensive. It's only "modern marriage" in Virginia that begins to approach basic fairness for all Virginians.
It was less than 50 years ago that Virginia police broke into the home of Virginia newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving, a "white" husband and "Negro" bride. They were arrested, charged under Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws, and sentenced to one year in prison. The trial judge suspended that sentence on the condition that the newlywed Lovings not return to Virginia for 25 years. They moved to DC, and later challenged their convictions in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In the 1967 Supreme Court unanimous ruling in Loving v. Virginia that declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, Chief Justice Warren wrote:
The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.
This was marriage in Virginia 50 years ago. Delegate Lingamfelter clearly means his concept of "traditional marriage" to include that time. In fact, Lingamfelter was quoted in the Washington Times saying that "traditional marriage" is "something that has seemed to have worked for 4,000 years". What might the appealing features of 4,000 year old traditional marriage be?
- Anti-miscegenation laws
- Married women having no rights to property ownership
- Married women having no legal standing under the law
- Legalized rape within marriage
- Prohibition against slaves marrying each other
- Arranged marriages and forced marriages
- Requiring a man to marry his deceased brother's widow
- Adultery by a woman punishable by death
Is this the traditional marriage Delegate Lingamfelter is
celebrating? Tom Tomorrow exposes the myth of "traditional marriage"
in one of his pithy comics,
but there are plenty of resources on the history of marriage to show
that the concept of "traditional marriage" has changed drastically in
just the last 400 years in Virginia, and unquestionably has evolved
considerably in the past 4,000 years.
Commemorating Loving v. Virginia in a "Freedom to Marry" Plate
Rather than commemorating "traditional marriage", Virginians could be far more proud of celebrating the "Freedom to Marry" that Justice Warren wrote of in the Loving v. Virginia decision. The Freedom To Marry license plate would have a design similar to the "traditional marriage" license plate - with two gold wedding bands, except instead of a heart, there would be an American flag, and the words FREEDOM TO MARRY at the bottom.
Virginians who support a "Freedom to Marry" license plate should have an easy time finding a sponsor for a bill to create such a "Freedom to Marry" plate, since Republican Delegate G. Glenn Oder offered this justification in support of the traditional marriage plates:
"Drivers should have the option of getting a plate to reflect their views on marriage, said Del. G. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News.
"It's a personal preference," he said, wondering aloud that from a political standpoint "how do you vote against it?"
to know Delegate Oder will support a plate to advertise views on
marriage that may reflect a different "personal preference". After
all, it's a personal preference - how do you vote against it?
All Virginians should join in rejecting a celebration of the controversial checkered history of "traditional marriage" in Virginia (much less in the past 4,000 years) and instead celebrate the feedom to marry that the Loving v. Virginia case brought to Virginia. It's an important part of Virginia's history, and finally embracing freedom to marry for all races during the past 40 years is something of which all Virginians should be proud.
Now that the "traditional marriage" license plate bill will be going to the Senate, it may be important to let your Senator know how you feel about Virginia's shameful history of "Traditional Marriage" up until 1967, which is not a tradition that most Virginians, if they knew about it, would want to publicly celebrate.