Virginia

Virginia legal documents designed to protect your family no matter your relationship status

Virginia

virginiaVirginia

Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in Virginia. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with Virginia law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.

Although the US Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay and lesbian couples legally married and living in a state that recognizes that marriage, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples living in Virginia are not legally recognized as spouses even if they were married in a marriage equality state or country.

Virginia same-sex partners and family members may experience discrimination in many different ways. Some of them, like snubbing by your family of origin or by complete strangers in a social setting, can’t be dealt with legally; they require a set of adaptive behaviors, including education, humor, and a thick skin. But typical anti-discrimination laws do cover several areas.

Here is a run-down on Virginia law affecting the LGBTQ community:

1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Virginia voters ratified a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman in November 2006. The state recognizes no other same-sex relationship. The same definitions and restrictions appear in state statutes.

Marshall-Newman Amendment also prohibits the Commonwealth of Virginia and its political subdivisions, such as counties and independent cities, from creating or recognize any legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals, such as domestic partnership benefits.

Virginia has extended hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples though a designated visitor statute.

In December 2009, Governor Tim Kaine had started a process which would extend Virginia employee health benefits to same-sex partners. At McDonnell’s request, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion that this change to the coverage of the state’s health plan could not be made without explicit legislation authorizing it, thereby halting the administrative process to make the change. However, McDonnell did sign a law which would allow Virginia employers to offer private insurance coverage for employees’ same-sex partners, after the bill passed with bipartisan support.

On July 18, 2013, a couple filed a lawsuit in federal court (eastern district) challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. On September 30, the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced it has joined the Bostic v. Rainey case with Theodore Olson and David Boies as lawyers.

On August 1, 2013, two same-sex couples, one of which married in the District of Columbia in 2011, filed a lawsuit in federal court (western district) represented by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. They challenged both the state’s denial of marriage to same-sex couples and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. The suit asked the court to recognize it as a class action on behalf of all same-sex couples in Virginia who seek to marry or have married elsewhere.

2 Adoption Law: Virginia allows single persons and opposite-sex married couples to adopt children. The state has no explicit prohibition on adoption by same-sex couples or second-parent adoptions.

3 Anti-Discrimination Law: Virginia law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Virginia’s hate crime laws address violence based on race, religious conviction, color or national origin, but not on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Northern Virginia counties of Arlington and Fairfax along with the independent cities of Alexandria, Charlottesville, Falls Church, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation only. Loudoun County prohibits discrimination in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity. All public universities in the state have non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

4 Sodomy Law: Virginia’s statutes criminalizing sodomy between same-sex and opposite-sex couples, “crimes against nature, morals and decency,” were effectively invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.

In 2005, basing its decision on Lawrence, the Supreme Court of Virginia in Martin v. Ziherl invalidated § 18.2-344, the Virginia stature making fornication between unmarried persons a crime.

On January 31, 2013, the Senate of Virginia passed a bill repealing § 18.2-345, the lewd and lascivious cohabitation stature enacted in 1877, by a vote of 40 to 0. On February 20, 2013, the Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 62 to 25 votes. On March 20, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell signed the repeal of the lewd and lascivious cohabitation stature from the Code of Virginia.

On March 12, 2013, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down § 18.2-361, the crimes against nature stature. On March 26, 2013, Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli filed a petition to have the case reheard en banc, but the Court denied the request on April 10, 2013, with none of its 15 judges supporting the request. On June 25, Cuccinelli filed a petition for certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision, which was rejected on October 7.

5Public Opinion: A July 2013, Quinnipiac poll found that 50% of Virginians support same-sex marriage while 43% oppose it. In an August 2013 Emerson College poll, 38% of Virginians support same-sex marriage while 48% opposed it and 14% were undecided. A September 2013 poll found 55% of Virginia residents support gay marriage, while 37% oppose it. An October 2013 poll by Christopher Newport University found that 56% of likely voters oppose the ban on same-sex marriage, compared to 36% who favor it.
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