RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia House yesterday approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, despite a warning from the state's first openly gay legislator that the measure will one day prove as shameful as slavery and segregation.
The House voted, 78 to 18, in favor of a resolution similar to one easily approved in the Senate on Monday.
If negotiators can reconcile the two versions this year and the measure passes both chambers again next year, it will be put to voters in November 2006.
"Today is one of those moments for which we shall one day be ashamed," said Democrat Adam P. Ebbin, who is gay.
Supporters of the amendment say the measure is vital to warding off court rulings such as one in Massachusetts that legalized gay marriage there.
Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation, said Ebbin's remarks about Virginia's racist past were unseemly. "This is not a case where there are separate drinking fountains," she said. "There are no lack of voting rights, no segregated schools," she said.
Virginia already has one of the nation's strictest laws banning same-sex marriages, civil unions, and other arrangements "purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."
Last November, voters in 11 states ratified constitutional bans on gay marriage.
In New York on Monday, lawyers for the city said they would ask the state's Court of Appeals to review a ruling on the state's gay marriage ban as quickly as possible. A lower court judge decided Friday that New York law violates the constitutional rights of gay couples.