Law and Marriage Applications
Same-sex couples cannot marry in West Virginia due to a statute defining marriage as a contract between one woman and one man. In fact, all marriage applications must include the following: “Marriage is designed to be a loving and lifelong union between a woman and a man.” Same-sex unions granted in other jurisdictions are not recognized by the state of West Virginia. For a relatively conservative state it is pleasantly surprising that in 2009, when a bill seeking to ban gay marriage was proposed, it was shot down by the House of Delegates in a 67-30 vote; in fact, similar legislation has been voted down numerous times. West Virginia lawmakers claim that it is because there are much more pressing matters to deal with.
A Few Hopeful Bills
Even more exciting, Delegate John Doyle introduced legislation to legalize gay marriage in 2011. He is hoping this will be a major “last act” before retiring in 2012. Because an anti-discrimination
measure has seen no movement, he also introduced a civil union bill in 2012. If turned into law, the bill will afford same-sex couples all the benefits and responsibilities that married couples accept. His intention is to open discussion regarding equal rights for all families with the belief that same-sex couples deserve the same “safety net” to handle difficult times like job loss or a death in the family.
As far as protection for LGBT individuals the state of West Virginia does not have much to offer. A proposed bill to prevent sexual orientation-based discrimination passed the Senate in 2009 but failed in the House.
Polls and Opposition
Public Policy Polling results do not bring great news for gay rights activists and gay couples. According to the survey 19 percent of voters think same-sex marriage should be legal and an overwhelming 71 percent agree with it being illegal. 43 percent support some kind of legal recognition for gay couples and 54 percent disagree with legal recognition.
The West Virginia Family Foundation, headed by Kevin McCoy, is the leading force against gay marriage and Christian organization that is attempting to “religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and traditional family values.”
Support for West Virginia’s LGBT community must be out there but at the moment, there is not much publicity regarding gay rights activism.
- Can gay couples get married in West Virginia? No, but it is not constitutionally banned.
- Can gay couples enter into any legal relationships? No.