Valentine’s Day Demonstrations for Marriage
Virginians of various faith communities hoping to extend equal rights to LGBT people will host 23 demonstrations at county courthouses across the commonwealth on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to call attention to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage and to begin a yearlong process of engaging Virginians to pressure General Assembly lawmakers to allow debate on a proposed repeal of that ban.
The group, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV), has been organizing such Valentine’s Day ’’Witness for Love!’’ demonstrations for 10 years, beginning initially in Richmond and later extending to other jurisdictions across the state, including Arlington, Fairfax, Winchester and Norfolk. The 23 events will occur at various times throughout the day in all regions of the state. A schedule of events can be found on POFEV’s website, pofev.org.
The Rev. Robin Gorsline, president and CEO of POFEV, says that Friday’s events are intended to raise awareness of the shifting opinions and attitudes toward LGBT people in Virginia and across the country, not just relating to marriage but to other LGBT issues such as nondiscrimination in employment, housing and adoption. Gorsline’s group hopes to have couples apply for marriage licenses with county clerks, knowing they will be denied due to Virginia’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage, as well as the Marshall-Newman Amendment, the state’s constitutional ban on recognizing any domestic relationship between two people of the same sex.
’’We realize they won’t break ranks, because to do so is against the law,’’ says Gorsline. ’’But we’re going to have people go, regardless of whether the local clerk supports or opposes marriage equality. The demonstration will be civil and respectful, and, hopefully, people will have a chance to have a discussion with the clerks in the process.’’
After the couples are denied the right to marry in their particular locales, they are expected to join nearby crowds featuring speeches, songs and prayers in support of marriage equality.
Of particular interest is one such demonstration scheduled for Prince William County at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Gorsline says POFEV was not initially involved in that event, but later joined with the group’s Prince William peers, the Bull Run Unitarian Universalists, who had already begun planning an independent action for marriage equality.