Today, I read a Washington Post article that said Virginia voters banned gay marriage in 2006. Last week, Ken Cucinnelli attempted to chastise Terry McAuliffe in a debate by arguing that the Governor would not have to sign off on ban on gay marriage - both are wrong and this error continues to crop up in the press and public discussions.
Gay marriage was prohibited in the Commonwealth by statute in 1975 when § 20-45.2 of the Code of Virginia was enacted. It said:
§ 20-45.2. Marriage between persons of same sex.Virginia was the second state in the United States to specifically ban gay marriage following Maryland in 1973.
A marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited.
Although my Lexis-Nexis subscription does not go back to 1975, I suspect that this legislation came about due to publicity about efforts by a gay couple in Colorado to force the government to recognize their marriage. Interestingly, one of the plaintiff's recently died and his obituary is here.
Here's a video of an interview of the Clerk who issued the six same sex marriage licenses in March, 1975. Interestingly, she pointed out that because the Colorado code did not prohibit her from issuing the license, she was permitted to proceed.
In 1975, there was also an effort to legalize gay marriage by Councilman Arrington Dixon in Washington, D.C.