Charlottesville City Council is bringing a bold ordinance to the table. It is pushing to give benefits to legally married, same-sex couples who work for the city.
Following in the footsteps of Richmond City Council, Charlottesville is now working to give same-sex couples the same benefits as married heterosexual couples.
"We need to make a statement that people in the city believe in equal rights and that we want to go on public record as saying that out loud," said Councilor Kristin Szakos.
The ordinance would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and extend benefits to partners of those who work for the city of Charlottesville.
"Council is making a huge statement and their show of support is great for the community that lives here and it also says to the rest of the country, ‘this is a great place to live,'" said Amy Marshall, president of Charlottesville Pride.
But even if council approves the ordinance, it would not immediately impact gay and lesbian employees. The decision ultimately lies in the hands of the courts or the General Assembly, but that isn't holding council back.
"It's important to me at least that we try to do the right thing and go as far as we can to do the right thing," Szakos said.
Gay rights activists say, even if it's not effective immediately, it's still symbolic.
"It makes the city a very attractive place to work - that's one thing, and it makes the whole place feel a lot more welcoming," Marshall said.
And if and when a decision comes down to allow the ordinance, council says the Charlottesville will be prepared.
"Whether it's through a change through the constitution, court order or whatever happens to ultimately make Virginia able to recognize same-sex marriages, we want to be ready," Szakos said.
Council approved the first reading of the ordinance at Monday night's meeting but will not vote on the issue until October.