March 4, 2022 News & Press Releases

ICYMI: Senate and House Democrats and Activists Call on Gov. Youngkin and Republicans to join Democrats in Allowing a Floor Vote on Constitutional Amendments

by Democratic Party of Virginia

Richmond, VA – Yesterday, Senate and House Democrats and representatives from Equality VA, New Virginia Majority, and the Virginia ACLU held a press conference calling on Governor Youngkin and Republicans to join them in allowing a floor vote on constitutional amendments to remove the marriage equality ban from the constitution and enshrine automatic restoration of voting rights into it. 

Democratic House Caucus Chair Herring, Delegate Mark Sickles, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Senator Locke, Senator Ebbin, Narissa Rahaman Executive Director of Equality VA, Shawn Weneta Policy Strategist for ACLU Virginia, and Tram Nguyen Co-Executive Director for New Virginia Majority delivered remarks in support of these amendments calling on Republicans to allow a floor vote.

“I want to tell you the good news. The good news is that it’s not too late, House Republicans can still fix their mistakes on these resolutions,” said Delegate Charniele Herring. “Today we are calling on Governor Youngkin and House Republicans to join us in taking the steps needed to allow Virginians to vote on these issues. We encourage Virginians from around the Commonwealth to reach out to their delegate and let them know you want them to support our efforts to pass SJ 1 and SJ 5.”

“I'll tell you what Virginia's Republicans are afraid of when it comes to SJ1: they are afraid of the voters. They are also afraid of any inhibition of their attempts to continue to suppress voting rights and strip away what would be a constitutional guarantee to ballot box access,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke. “The actions of six House Republicans early last Tuesday morning are deciding the fate of thousands of Virginians, and denying their reentry into society after incarceration be full and just. In actively refusing to allow voters to decide if the inalienable right to vote should be enshrined in the Virginia Constitution--the governing document which guarantees democracy in the Commonwealth--Virginia Republicans are showing their true nature of voter suppression and manipulated representation."

“This Commonwealth has evolved since 1607 and it has evolved since 2006 when our constitution stood with the so-called marriage amendment,” said Senator Adam Ebbin. “This amendment to repeal and replace the marriage ban does a simple but momentous thing. Our constitution only once deprives citizens of a right to marry the person you love. SJ5 removes that stain and permanently enshrines this right, safeguarding it for Virginians regardless of their sex or gender.”

“I am a returning citizen and about a year ago I had the luck to gain an audience with Governor Northam and he restored my voting rights,” said Shawn Weneta Policy Strategist for ACLU Virginia. “As a 45-year-old man voting again was one of the proudest moments of my life. Everyone deserves these second chances and be able to participate in society. I felt like a full citizen again, I felt whole again after returning from incarceration.” 

The press conference can be viewed here.