"These are absolutely archaic laws that don't deal with the modern reality of treating marriage seriously," Skinner said. "Apparently marriage is in such a crisis that for the last couple years we've been promoting constitutional amendments about it, so let's take it seriously."
There have been three proposals this session, from members of both parties, to constitutionally define marriage as one man and one woman. None has been successful.
Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, disagreed.
"I take issue with the term of things being archaic, maybe that's because of my age," said Ireland, who is 70. "The fact that something has been around a while doesn't mean that it's not good."
Ellem's proposal also failed.
A marriage can also be voided if prior to the marriage the wife was pregnant with someone else's child or if she was a prostitute or if the husband was notoriously licentious.
Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, proposed making that section of the code gender neutral so that a marriage could be voided if a husband had fathered a child without the wife's knowledge. She referenced Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The committee ran out of time to discuss Fleischauer's proposal.