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Advocacy group endorses Va. Democrats despite tepid support of LGBT issues

Advocacy group endorses Va. Democrats despite tepid support of LGBT issues

RICHMOND — Equality Virginia PAC, the advocacy arm Equality Virgina, on Friday endorsed the Democratic ticket for Virginia’s three top elective offices, while at the same time acknowledging that a lack of public comment on LGBT issues from the candidates was problematic.

The group endorsed Fairfax County businessman Terry McAuliffe, who will face GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, state Sen. Ralph Northam, (D-Norfolk) in the race for Lieutenant Governor to take on Republican E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake, Va., minister with a track record of vehemently anti-gay remarks, and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudon), who will face GOP candidate Mark Obenshain, also a Virginia state Senator, in the race for Attorney General.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said this year’s races will be a crucial turning point for LGBT Virginians in ending workplace discrimination, gaining marriage equality, extending adoption rights and protecting youth.

“Virginians have a very clear choice this November to show their support for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” Parrish said.

Parrish said the lack of public comment on LGBT issues from the Democratic candidates was problematic, but that when faced with the choices Virginian’s have, the three Democratic candidates were head and shoulders above their Republican counterparts.

“You could be disappointed, or you could look at the climate of Virginia and be thankful that he’s not making the comments the other candidates are,” said Parrish. “Maybe each of the three candidates are at a different place when voicing their level of affirmation, but we felt these three will make a positive impact for LGBT Virginians.”

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McAuliffe, who spoke at an Equality Virgina event in April and told attendees “I came out early (for marriage equality) because I thought it was the right thing to do,” has been less vocal in his affirmations since then.

At a recent press conference following the Democratic Primary, McAuliffe said “yes” when asked if he supported same-sex marriage, but deflected further questions about LGBT issues to Northam.

Northan has been more vocal on LGBT issues, although his remarks have lacked often lacked any formal commitments.

In a recent interview, Northam said, “We need a Virginia that is welcoming and inclusive. We need to move in a forward pattern, rather than backwards.”

A May 2013 poll found that a majority of voters in Virginia now support marriage equality for same-sex couples, reflecting a significant shift in public opinion over the last two years.

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