The Marshall-Newman Amendment also referred to as the Virginia Marriage Amendment is an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman and bans recognition of any legal status "approximating the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage".[1] The amendment was ratified by 57% of the voters on November 7, 2006.[2]


Virginia's amendment is alone in preventing the state from recognizing private contracts; South Carolina's amendment explicitly disavows such an aim.[3] Observers have pointed out that such language encompasses private contracts and medical directives.[4][5]

The text of the amendment states:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. 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.


The far-reaching nature of the Marshall-Newman Amendment intended to re-enforce its "Marriage Affirmation Act has attracted criticism. Writing in The Washington Post, Jonathan Rauch argued that:

Virginia appears to abridge gay individuals' right to enter into private contracts with each other. On its face, the law could interfere with wills, medical directives, powers of attorney, child custody and property arrangements, even perhaps joint bank accounts. If a gay Californian was hit by a bus in Arlington, her medical power of attorney might be worthless there.[6]


  1. Proposed Constitutional Amendment, Article I, Section 15-A, from "November 2006 Proposed Amendments", Virginia State Board of Elections. Accessed 30 December 2006.
  2. Official Results, 2006 election, Virginia State Board of Elections. Accessed 30 December 2006.
  3. p.24 No.54 edition of the Journal of the Senate of the State of South Carolina. State of South Carolina. April 2005. Accessed 06 January 2007.
  4. Test case is urged by ACLU, by Bill Freehling, The Free Lance-Star, November 21, 2006. Accessed 15 December 2006.
  5. Potential Impact of the Proposed Marshall/Newman Amendment to the Virginia Constitution, by Melissa Glidden, Brenda Jackson-Cooper, and Leslie Nickel, Arnold & Porter, LLP, August 11, 2006. Accessed 15 December 2006.
  6. "Virginia's New Jim Crow". Rauch, Jonathan. The Washington Post. Sunday, June 13, 2004. Accessed 13 January 2007.

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