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Va. House Approves Gay-Marriage Ban

February 8, 2005

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia House approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Tuesday, despite a warning from the state’s first openly gay legislator that the measure will one day prove as shameful as slavery and segregation.

The House voted 78-18 in favor of a resolution similar to one easily approved in the Senate on Monday.

If negotiators can reconcile the two versions this year, and the measure passes both chambers again next year, it will be put to the voters in November 2006.

``Today is one of those moments for which we shall one day be ashamed,″ said Democrat Adam P. Ebbin, who is gay.

Supporters of the amendment contend it is vital to warding off court rulings such as one in Massachusetts that made gay marriage legal there.

The Family Foundation’s executive director, Victoria Cobb, said Ebbin’s remarks about Virginia’s racist past were unseemly.

``This is not a case where there are separate drinking fountains. There are no lack of voting rights, no segregated schools,″ she said.

Virginia already has one of the nation’s strictest laws banning same-sex marriages, civil unions and other arrangements ``purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage.″

``We’re just here piling on like a bunch of schoolyard bullies,″ said Delegate Mark Sickles, also a Democrat.

Last November, voters in 11 states ratified constitutional bans on gay marriage.

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