WV MetroNews reported the following on Tuesday:
There's little indication that state lawmakers are willing to move on a proposed Constitutional Amendment that, if approved by voters, would define marriage in West Virginia as a union between one man and one woman.
That proposed Amendment was the focus of a more than two hour hearing in front of a legislative committee Tuesday at the State Capitol. Lawmakers are holding monthly meetings there.
Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence was among those who testified. He says the legalization of same sex marriages in other states shows that a Constitutional Amendment is needed here.
"There's been nine states that have had their courts strike down their marriage laws and, basically, impose a same sex marriage on the entire state so the only way, really, to prevent that is with state Constitutional Amendments which 30 states have done already," Lorence says.
But Seth DiStefano, Field Organizer with West Virginia's American Civil Liberties Union, calls the proposed Constitutional Amendment "redundant." The Defense of Marriage Act is already part of state law, he says, defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"I think it's very unnecessary," DiStefano says. "I think it sends a very dangerous message that West Virginians aren't inclusive people and I think that, ultimately, the rights of minorities should not be a function of popular opinion, which is what this bill sets out to do."
DiStefano says defining marriage is not one of the most pressing issues in West Virginia right now.
"I thought that the lawmakers were generally receptive to both sides. Everyone got their say," he said when asked about Tuesday's hearing. "But I don't know if the Legislature feels that this is the pressing issue that the proponents try to make it out to be."
Lorence, though, says those who think the Defense of Marriage Act is enough are
wrong. "What is unimaginable today, ten or 15 or 20 years in the future might become imaginable."
A bill that would put such a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in West Virginia will likely be introduced again during next year's legislative session.
Meanwhile, in the courts of another neighboring state, DOMA laws are being overturned. It may be a more pressing issue than any of us realize.