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Virginia rejects proposals for voting rights, gay marriage

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted along party lines Tuesday not to&nbsp;let voters decide whether to remove language prohibiting same-sex marriage from the state’s constitution or giving voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.&nbsp; File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/459e58a8beb28751a344d509ffedd537/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted along party lines Tuesday not to let voters decide whether to remove language prohibiting same-sex marriage from the state’s constitution or giving voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.  File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Virginia lawmakers decided Tuesday against letting voters decide whether to remove language barring same-sex marriage from the state's constitution or giving voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

A House of Delegates subcommittee voted 5-4 against the constitutional amendment, which would have given the right to vote to convicted felons who have completed their sentences.

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The panel also voted 6-4 to reject a proposed amendment that would remove language baring same-sex marriage from the state constitution.

The measure proposed removing language in the constitution referring to marriage as only a union between a man and woman, instead calling it a fundamental right for all.

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Had they passed, the measures would have gone to voter referendums in the fall.

The votes fell along partisan lines in the Republican-controlled subcommittee.

Both measures passed through the state's General Assembly last year under a Democrat-controlled legislature. They needed to pass a second time in order to get to the voter referendum stage. Republicans now hold a slim margin in the House.

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Spokespeople from more than 12 advocacy groups spoke in favor of the voting measure. No one spoke in opposition.

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There was also little debate in the subcommittee.

The state's former Democratic governor called the outcome "shameful."

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"Virginians who have paid their debt to society deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box. We won't stop fighting until we fully reverse this Jim Crow era law and make restoration of voting rights automatic," tweeted former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

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