Want to Repeal Marshall-Newman? Here's How.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today's Washington Post describes how, for political purposes, "former state delegate Brian Moran last week began emphasizing a topic that has long made Virginia Democrats wary: gay rights." Moran has also pledged to "work to repeal the constitutional amendment, passed in 2006, banning any attempt to equate same-sex relationships to marriage between a man and a woman."

On one level, that sounds wonderful. Personally, I despise the Marshall-Newman anti-gay-marriage amendment and want to see it out of Virginia's constitution as soon as possible. The only question in my mind is how we accomplish this goal most effectively, and when it's achieved. As the Post article explains, in order to pass a new amendment to Virginia's constitution overriding Marshall-Newman, "the General Assembly would have to reverse position and back repeal twice, followed by a referendum." So, first, we have to get a General Assembly that will vote not once but twice to repeal Marshall-Newman. That's going to take some doing, considering that the House of Delegates voted 85-12 to put this monstrosity on the ballot in 2006, while the State Senate voted 28-11.

That's right, we have to change the votes of 39 House members and 10 Senators in order to put a new constitutional referendum on the ballot. To change those votes, we can either persuade them or defeat them at the ballot box. We also need to make sure that Democrats control the House of Delegates, or this is not going to come to a vote regardless.

So, what are the chances of that happening this November? Well, Democrats need to pick up 6 seats in the House of Delegates, which is certainly not going to be an easy matter. Then, even if we accomplish that, we're going to need to persuade a bunch of more socially conservative Democrats to switch their votes on this issue. Le's look at some of the House Democrats who voted to put Marshall-Newman on the ballot: Ward Armstrong, David Bulova, Chuck Caputo, Johnny Joannou, Dave Marsden, and...Brian Moran. Well, at least one of those guys has apparently - in the midst of a gubernatorial primary where he's had a sudden conversion to liberalism on the proverbial road to Damascus - changed his mind. That leaves only about 38 House members to go, plus 10 State Senators, if we want to get a repeal amendment on the ballot (which I would dearly love to do) in the next couple of years.

As you can see from the numbers, it's extremely unlikely that Marshall-Newman's going to be repealed anytime soon. Unfortunately, and it's an utter disgrace to our Commonwealth, this amendment is likely to stay on the books for years to come, until we completely change the makeup of both the House of Delegates and the State Senate, electing not just Democrats but PROGRESSIVES on issues like this. What's the best way to accomplish this goal?

First and foremost, we need to focus on winning the governor's mansion this year and picking up as many seats in the House of Delegates as possible. Then, we need to keep moving forward from there. All of which means nominating the candidate for governor with the strongest campaign, the most appealing message, and the most money in order to take that message to the voters this November.

That, clearly, is Terry McAuliffe, who has also pledged that if he's the nominee, he'll run a coordinated campaign the likes of which Virginia has never seen. I'm greatly looking forward to that, to a chance at taking back the House of Delegates, and eventually to the point where we've got a progressive majority in both the House and Senate that will vote - twice - for a new amendment repealing Marshall-Newman. And it all starts on June 9, by Democrats picking the strongest candidate for November, the one the Republicans fear the most. Clearly, that's Terry McAuliffe, the candidate who gives us the best chance of keeping Virginia moving "forward, together" in years to come.

In sum, if you want to repeal Marshall-Newman, you start by doing everything you can to make sure Terry McAuliffe is our nominee on June 9.

UPDATE: Moran apparently voted against this before voting for it.