Give Me Liberty!

patrick-henry-speechToday, many of us go to the John Marshall Courts Building and the Richmond City Hall to raise the banner of Marriage Equality. I am proud to be part of a group of LGBT and straight allies, standing up for justice.

For me, however, this is as much a question of liberty as equality.

I am a Virginian by choice. As such, I am proud of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, adopted in 1786 (and the inspiration for the religious liberty provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The statute provides that the exercise of religion “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” I stand on that ground today to protest the recent amendment to the Virginia Bill of Rights (making it, for the first time, a Bill of Wrong), denying my right to marry my husband and to perform the civil marriages of other same-gender persons.

I do not know how Madison or Jefferson or Patrick Henry or John Marshall would feel about LGBT folks, but I do believe they are turning over in their graves at the sight of one religious group imposing its will on others through the civil government.