Marriage Equality USA

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US Virgin Islands
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Current Status


HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 

  • Same-sex sexual activity is legal in the U.S. Virgin Islands; civil unions are not available; and, same-sex marriage is forbidden by statute (Virgin Islands Code 16 V.I.C. § 31).
  • The leader of the local government is Governor John de Jongh, a Democratic, since 1 January 2007.
  • Virgin Islands residents are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in United States presidential election and cannot elect voting members of Congress. However, in the U.S. House of Representatives, they are represented by a delegate, who can vote in congressional committees but not in the House itself.
  • Following the 2013 SCOTUS ruling in United States v. Windsor, both the IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL) wrote that for their purposes the term "spouse" refers to any individual who is lawfully married under any state law, including individuals married to a person of the same sex who were legally married in a state that recognizes such marriages, but who are domiciled in a state that does not recognize such marriages. This applies to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

Legislation - Pending

Bill #14-1462, the "marriage equality bill"

Author/Sponsor: Senator Judi Buckley
Date Introduced: Draft submitted May 2014; in legal counsel; not yet introduced on the Senate floor

Description:

  • A bill supporting same-sex marriage, changing the language of the V.I. Code Title 16 from "between a male and a female," to "between two persons." The bill also includes a subsection that would ensure that any person, including members of clergy, have the right to decline to conduct any marriage, including one for a same-sex couple.
  • Additionally, revisions to the Code under the bill would allow for courts to proceed with divorces and annulments in V.I. Superior Court related to same-sex marriages.
  • The bill has yet to go before the V.I. Senate, but it is creating a stir, riling supporters and opponents, though it is hard to say how many people are on either side of the issue. Sen. Buckley doubts it will debut on the V.I. Senate floor before she leaves office at the end of her term in January 2015, but she said she is glad to see that the conversation already is in full swing.
  • While the drafted bill still is in the hands of legal counsel, Buckley said she is considering making additional changes to Title 16 that would assuage residents' fears that her bill would be a slippery slope into marriage deregulation. She is not sure to which committee the bill will be assigned once it is released from legal counsel.
  • 24 July 2014, a petition drive to garner public support for the bill was organized by Virgin Islands Equality For All.

Legislation - Enacted

None.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • We were not able to locate any marriage equality polling specifically for the U.S. Virgin Islands.