Hundreds rally to protest Virginia anti-gay law
By JUSTIN BERGMAN
Associated Press Writer
RICHMOND, Va. -- Holding multicolored balloons and waving rainbow flags, hundreds of people in cities across the state rallied Wednesday to protest the passage of an anti-gay law that critics say could interfere with legal contracts between same-sex couples.
The state law, which goes into effect Thursday, prohibits civil unions, partnership contracts or other arrangements "purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage." Some legal scholars and gay activists say it could be interpreted to nullify medical directives, wills, joint bank accounts and other partnership agreements between same-sex couples.
"(The law) clearly states that gay and lesbian people in this state should not feel welcome," Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, the state's largest gay rights organization, said at the Richmond rally. "It seeks to strip the only tool that gay and lesbian couples have to protect their families."
The rally drew a lively crowd of more than 400 gay activists and their supporters to the Capitol grounds. Some peddled T-shirts reading "Virginia is for Lovers. *Some restrictions apply," while others held signs denouncing the bill's sponsor, Republican Del. Robert Marshall.