Few same-sex marriages licenses issued locally

Published 1:05 pm Thursday, October 8, 2015

Prince Edward County has issued the most of same-sex marriage licenses in The Herald’s coverage area since the action became law in Virginia.

Tuesday marked one year since Virginia and local circuit court clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples across the state.

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“In just one year, the commonwealth has issued 2,670 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and issued 70 birth certificates to same-sex couples,” said Attorney General Mark R. Herring in a press release.

According to data from circuit court clerks, Prince Edward has issued six same-sex licenses in the past year. Buckingham has also issued licenses, but does not keep count, according to a deputy clerk.

Cumberland has issued none and has not had any applications for such licenses.

Lunenburg has issued five, and Charlotte has issued at least two, totaling at least 14 for the five counties.

“From a scholarly point of view, it’s certainly true that, in general, the less-affluent people are there’s a tendency to delay marriage,” said Dr. Carl Riden, an associate professor for sociology at Longwood University and a co-director of the college’s women and gender studies program.

“So, I would presume that in poorer, rural areas the same would be true for same-sex couples as would be true for other groups,” she said.

She said that she thinks there’s still some concern “about the fact that in the commonwealth you can still be discriminated against for being gay, lesbian or bisexual. So that if one were to marry, that becomes public record and one’s employer could then use that to justify firing you or you could be not hired or you could not rented to,” Riden said.

“There are still quite a few people who live sort of semi-closeted lives where, you know, sort of people are aware, but as long as you don’t talk about it, or make any kind of issue of it, then your ‘lifestyle’ … might be tolerated,” she said.

“I’m sure because the university’s here,” she said, explaining why more licenses had been issued to same-sex couples in Prince Edward compared to other area counties. “If you look at the general voting record in Prince Edward County it’s bluer and it’s more affluent … than surrounding counties,” Riden said. “You would probably have a sense of being more welcome as an openly LGBT person here than you might in counties that don’t have a college or university in the middle of them.”