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New Virginia Marriage Equality Law Goes Into Effect Today

Published Monday, Jul. 1st, 2024

Two grooms hug outdoors on the wedding day in Virginia
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Virginia since 2014. The revised law that goes into effect today expand protections for same-sex and same-gender couples, as well as interracial couples in the state. (Photo by In Lieu & In View Photography / Unsplash)

Virginia marriage laws updated to protect couples regardless of race, sex, or gender



A new law goes into effect in Virginia today which will help protect the rights of all people who want to get married there. The law also includes provisions that protect the religious freedoms of clergy in the state. 


The new section, §20-13.2, explicitly states that no couple can be denied a marriage license on the basis of sex, gender, or race. Religious organizations and clergy members retain the right not to officiate a marriage ceremony that conflicts with their personal beliefs. 


The bill was adopted by legislators on March 8th, 2024, and signed into law by Gov. Youngkin soon after. Read the full text below: 


§20-13.2. Marriage lawful regardless of sex, gender, or race of parties.


No person authorized by §20-14 to issue a marriage license shall deny the issuance of such license to two parties contemplating a lawful marriage on the basis of the sex, gender, or race of such parties. Such lawful marriages shall be recognized in the Commonwealth regardless of the sex, gender, or race of the parties.


Religious organizations and members of the clergy acting in their religious capacity shall have the right to refuse to perform any marriage.


Added by Acts 2024 c. 760,§ 1, Effective 7/1/2024


This legislation is a win for LGBTQ+ and interracial couples in the state, as well as their families and allies – especially when considering that previous attempts to protect same-sex marriage by removing discriminatory definitions of marriage from the Virginia State Constitution (by repealing Section 15-A) have failed multiple times. 


This is a step in the right direction! 



Interracial bride and groom pose on the wedding day, smiling at each other

Photo: SDI Productions / iStock

When was interracial marriage legalized in Virginia? In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia that the state's antimiscegenation laws violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment. This legalized interracial marriage at the national level! July's update to Virginia's state marriage laws will protect couples at the state level, even if Loving vs. Virginia is overturned in the future. Read more about Loving v Virginia here. 



How does this update impact AMM Ministers who officiate in the state, or the Virginia marriage officiant law? 


The new law discussed above does not directly impact ministers and officiants in Virginia, and does not make changes to the state's marriage officiant laws. This law provides protections for couples when they apply for a marriage license.



Marriage licenses are issued by state officials and clerks, who will verify a couple's eligibility to marry before issuing their documents. As always, however, it’s important for officiants to confirm a couple’s identity before performing their marriage ceremony and signing their marriage license. 



Clergy members in Virginia have the right to refuse to officiate a couple’s wedding if it conflicts with their personal beliefs about marriage. However, American Marriage Ministries, its members, ministers, and congregants believe that marriage is a sacred union and the natural right of all people – regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, nationality, socioeconomic status, or religious background. Therefore our ministers should not refuse to officiate a wedding on these bases.



Read Next: 




Two grooms hold hands while walking outside on a sunny day in a field.

Photo: Julie Rose / Pixabay

Planning a Virginia wedding? This short guide will help -- from how to find a Virginia wedding officiant to how to apply for and complete a VA marriage license. Read the full article here. 



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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