Friday, February 26, 2010

Charleston, West Virginia Crowd Asks Politicians "to Let us Vote" on Gay Marriage

By Alison Knezevich

About 150 people gathered outside the state Capitol on Thursday to say they want voters to decide whether the West Virginia Constitution should ban same-sex marriage.

"We are here today to say, let us vote," said Jeremy Dys, president of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, which organized the rally.

Earlier this week, Democrats in the House of Delegates blocked a Republican move to force a vote on the "Marriage Protection Amendment." That bipartisan resolution calls for a statewide referendum on whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Now, opponents of same-sex marriage are focusing on a similar measure (SJR14) in the state Senate

People at the rally stood and chanted, "Let us vote!" They waved signs with the same slogan.

Some said they wanted politicians to stand up on the issue.

"We don't feel they're representing us by not allowing this to come to a vote," said Terri McCormick of Cross Lanes.

West Virginia already has the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the state from recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere. Those who want a constitutional ban say the existing law could be challenged in court.

McCormick's brother, Michael Kidd of Hurricane, fears that if voters don't amend the constitution, judges will allow same-sex marriage.

"Just the very thought that homosexuals cannot procreate is proof enough that [gay marriage] is not in God's will," he said.

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, was the only legislator to address the rally, saying that lawmakers must respond to people's desire to vote on marriage.

The crowd also heard from Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Randy Wilson of the Family Research Council.

The nation is in a crisis "between life and death, truth and lies, chaos and order," said Wilson, who frequently quoted the Bible.

He urged people to "stop the plague that is the destruction of marriage today."

"Will we stand for the children who are watching, or will the plague take them as well?" he asked.

Fairness West Virginia, a gay and lesbian civil rights group, called the rally "a cynical attempt to write discrimination into our state's constitution."

The group is asking state senators to reject the marriage amendment.

"These attacks on gay people have real results," group president Stephen Skinner said in a statement. "Gay and lesbian families in our state and gay teenagers struggling with their identity already feel at risk and stigmatized and these relentless attacks have only made the situation worse."

State law already bans gay marriage in West Virginia, and legislators should concentrate on economic issues, Skinner said.

"If these groups are so concerned about threats to Mountain State families, then they should focus their energy on legislation to boost our economy and put people back to work," he said.

Reach Alison Knezevich at or 304-348-1240.


See also: Gay-Marriage Ban Fails in House ( 02/23/2020


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