UPDATE: From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Delegates won’t back marriage measure
Proposed ban of same-sex unions too broad, say previous supporters
October 19, 2006
By Pamela Stallsmith
Three Richmond-area House Democrats — including a Baptist minister — who supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage now say they’ll vote against it because it’s too broad.
House Minority Leader Franklin P. Hall; Del. Dwight Clinton Jones, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of South Richmond; and Del. A. Donald McEachin of Henrico say the three-sentence proposal that will face state voters Nov. 7 goes far beyond simply defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
The other two sentences hold the potential for far-reaching legal and economic consequences, the lawmakers said at a Capitol news conference yesterday. They voted in favor of the amendment during the General Assembly.
Three other local lawmakers, who voted against the measure in the legislature, reiterated their opposition and urged Virginians to vote no — state Sens. Benjamin J. Lambert III and Henry L. Marsh III and Del. Jennifer L. McClellan, all of Richmond.
Jones, the Baptist minister, seems to be expressing some anger about the assumption that there is only one position he could possibly take on this issue.
“Over the past 37 years that I have been marrying individuals, I have never once had a request for same-sex marriage,” said Jones, adding he takes umbrage that it’s been made an issue of faith.
“It’s unneeded,” said Jones, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. “Voting against the amendment does not suggest that an individual does not believe that a marriage is between a man and a woman.”
For all the talk from amendment proponents about their “faith,” there is no indication that that faith includes anything approaching compassion. Perhaps the willingness of these lawmakers to speak out and risk the wrath of Victoria Cobb and her faux Christian values will start a much needed conversation about what faith really requires in this situation. Delegate McEachin explains his change of heart this way:
“Like the blind man cured by Jesus, even after much prayer, the first time I looked at this amendment, I didn’t see its breadth or its basic meanness,” he said. “Only after I was touched a second time was I able to see this amendment in its true light.”
This is much more than a few legislators changing their minds, or as Victoria tries to spin it, playing “partisan politics.” This is the rebellion of principled people of faith who are fed up with the assumption that their faith requires cruelty and exclusion.
(Corrected version) So say Delegates Donald McEachin, Franklin Hall, and Dwight Jones. Delegate Jennifer McClellan, and Senators Benjamin Lambert and Henry Marsh appeared at a press conference with them.
They have just announced their change of heart on the Marshall/Newman amendment. They were orginally part of the much trumpeted “bipartisan majority” of Virginia legislators to vote for the amendment. They now announce that they will be voting NO, and urging others to do the same.
Significantly, four of the six are members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
More when there’s press coverage.