A proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (search) in Virginia easily won final approval Saturday by both chambers of the General Assembly.
The measure would have to be approved again by the Legislature next year and ratified by voters in the 2006 general election before it would become part of the Virginia Constitution (search).
The House of Delegates voted 79-17, and the Senate voted 30-10 to pass the final version of the amendment.
Virginia law already prohibits same-sex marriages. However, many legislators argued that an amendment is necessary to ensure that courts do not force Virginia to recognize gay marriages or civil unions performed in other states.
One opponent of the measure, Democratic state Delegate Albert Pollard (search), said he does not support gay marriage, but he does not see it as a threat to traditional values that warrants amending the Constitution.
"This is an issue that needs to be viewed like McCarthyism," Pollard said. "We are not threatened by gay marriage. We are threatened by our overreaction to it."
Supporters of the legislation did not respond to critics on the House and Senate floors.
Seventeen states have adopted constitutional gay-marriage bans, with 11 of them ratifying the measures in elections last fall.