Equality Virginia: Finally, Marriage Equality is Codified in Virginia

Equality Virginia: Finally, Marriage Equality is Codified in Virginia

Gov. Youngkin signs HB 174 which updates the Virginia Code to affirm marriage rights.

On March 8, Equality Virginia Advocates, the public policy and advocacy arm of the Commonwealth’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) equality, applauded the signing of HB 174, a bill that updates the Virginia Code with an affirmative right to marriage for same-sex couples. Since marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015, the Virginia Code has not been updated to reflect that change, even though marriages for same-sex couples have been legal in the commonwealth for nearly a decade. Marriage equality is exceedingly popular in Virginia, with more than 70 percent of public support as of 2021. Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bill into law Friday, March 8, 2024. 

“Two years into his term, Governor Youngkin has shown leadership and inclusivity, and has finally listened to his constituents with his signing of HB 174. The bill passed through the general assembly with support from both parties, at a time when more than 70 percent of Virginians support marriage equality,” said Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia Advocates. “This change to the Code is a positive step forward, and shows how effectively LGBTQ+ couples, interracial couples, and our neighbors have been in sharing their stories and experiences relating to marriage in Virginia. Tonight, we honor the couples who never were able to enjoy this right, the currently married couples who can rest easier following this legal update and all those who will be able to get married here in Virginia for generations to come..” 

HB 174 does the following: 

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 20-13.2 as follows:

§20-13.2. Marriage lawful regardless of sex, gender, or race of parties.

No person authorized by §20-14 to issue a marriage license shall deny the issuance of such license to two parties contemplating a lawful marriage on the basis of the sex, gender, or race of such parties. Such lawful marriages shall be recognized in the Commonwealth regardless of the sex, gender, or race of the parties. 

Religious organizations and members of the clergy acting in their religious capacity shall have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.

A 2021 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 71% of Virginians support the right of same-sex couples to marry. This percentage has only increased since the question began being asked of voters. In 2006, 53% of voters supported the marriage ban.