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The real-world questions of the gay marriage amendment.

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There are laws on the book that already make gay marriage illegal in Virginia, but the November ballot will ask voters to decide whether they're for or against an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.

So what would the amendment change, in practice?

Opponents point to the amendment's second paragraph, which says that if the amendment passes, the commonwealth will not recognize "other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage." They say it's overly broad and will spawn litigation among cranky parties about whether wills and contracts were intended to approximate marriage.

Supporters of the amendment say it's to make sure that if a same-sex couple gets married in another state, such as Vermont, Virginia can't be forced to honor the legal status of that marriage. Supporters say relatively few rights flow directly from the legal institution of marriage as it is. And the attorney general's office has issued an opinion stating that end-of-life decisions, domestic violence laws and real estate ownership won't be affected by the new law.

So, what do married people really get, anyway? S

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