Tomorrow at noon, the full Senate is scheduled to take up two bills on the floor that would undermine marriage in Virginia and, we believe, may violate Virginia's Marriage Amendment.
SB 1121, patroned by Senators Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond) and Mark Herring (D-33, Leesburg), would permit local governments to extend health and life insurance to "any other person" as agreed to by the insurer and the local government. Included in "any other person" would be domestic partnerships between non-married hetero- and homosexual couples. In essence, this bill creates domestic partner benefits for local government employees.
A second bill, SB 1122, also patroned by Senator McEachin, would allow the state to expand benefits in state government to cover domestic partners. The fiscal impact statement done by the state admits this saying the bill . . .
could create an increase in costs paid by state agencies, state employees, and retired state employees under the state employee health insurance plan. The provisions of this bill may allow coverage to be offered to extended family members and other non-related individuals not currently covered.
The cost to the state (and consequently the taxpayer) to these bills may not be determinable by the state, but we can guarantee that the creation of this new entitlement will be extraordinarily costly for you and your family. At a time when the state can't even pay its full commitment to Virginia Retirement System and is struggling to make ends meet, the Virginia Senate is about to pass legislation that will bury the state in insurance costs.
While the legislation is "permissive," and doesn’t require that benefits be offered, this legislation is obviously the next step in the progression toward domestic partner benefits in Virginia. The long-term consequence of this legislative track goes beyond finances to a threat to religious liberty. Eventually, private employers will be forced to provide these benefits against their will in order to be eligible for government contracts. We have seen this progression elsewhere and many other states are eliminating faith-based providers from contracting with them for this reason.
According to the state constitution:
Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Insurance long has been recognized as a benefit of marriage in our Commonwealth. This legislation would create a "class of persons" and assign them a benefit of marriage.