Richmond, VA -- The ACLU of Virginia today announced that it stands ready to mount a court challenge to the vaguely-worded provision of the new Virginia constitutional amendment that may ban many legitimate contractual agreements between unmarried persons.
Virginia voters recently amended the Virginia Constitution to ban gay marriage and legal recognition of arrangements between unmarried individuals that “ approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” Although the ACLU is opposed to the constitutional prohibition against gay marriage, the planned court action announced today is limited to challenging the ban on arrangements that approximate marriage.
The ACLU wants to hear from individuals who have been affected by the new provision. Each situation will be evaluated to determine if it is an appropriate basis for a legal challenge. Examples of the scenarios that could lead to a legal challenge include a third-party’s refusal to accept the conditions of agreements made between unmarried individuals regarding guardianship of children, hospital visits, wills, or advance medical directives.
“If this amendment is used to invalidate legitimate arrangements between unmarried persons, then we are prepared to challenge it in court,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis.
“We want to hear from anyone who has been affected in any way by this new law,” added Willis. “The language of the constitutional amendment is so vague and so broad that it could be applied in highly injurious ways that we have not even imagined yet.”
“The main message from the Governor, many other prominent individuals from across the political spectrum, and the various groups who worked against passage of the amendment is that it goes too far,” said Willis, “giving the government unprecedented power to interfere with consensual private relationships and contracts. That is exactly our concern.”
The full amendment reads as follows: “ 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.”
Anyone who believes they have been affected by the new amendment should contact the ACLU of Virginia at acluva@acluva.org or 804/644-8080.

Contact Kent Willis at 804/644-8022

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