Virginia is for lovers-- unless you're gay and wanna get married
Many enamored couples choose Valentine's Day to get married, and André Hakes and Catherine Gillespie would like to be among them. But even on Valentine's Day with a big chocolate-filled, heart-shaped bribe to Clerk of Court Llezelle Dugger, it ain't gonna happen in Virginia.
About three dozen people crowded into the Charlottesville clerk's office as Hakes and Gillespie went through what has become an annual tradition: requesting a marriage license.
Dugger would like to accommodate them, except for one problem. "I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of Virginia." And that constitution the people of Virginia amended in 2006 to make sure that couples like Hakes and Gillespie could never tie the knot in this state.
"It's a very important civil right we do not enjoy in this state," says Amy Marshall, who also would like to get married. She says frequently people here are astounded when told that she and her partner can't.
Hakes and Gillespie have been together 16 years. "We own property together; we have a child together," says Gillespie. "The implications of not having legal protections are frightening."
When friends in DC or Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legal, ask how can they live in Virginia, Gillespie's answer is simple: "It's my home."
They'll be back again next year. And should Dugger ever be able to grant their request for a marriage license, she promises, "I'll be open at 12:01am."