Virginia

Little substance on LGBT rights from Va. Democratic candidates

From left: Mark Herring, Terry McAuliffe, and Ralph Northam. BRAD KUTNER and MAYA EARLS | GayRVA

RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic party’s candidates for Virginia‘s top elected offices had little to offer on Wednesday on the issue of LGBT rights, despite facing a trio of vehemently anti-gay Republican opponents.

The candidates gathered Wednesday at a breakfast event following Tuesday’s statewide Democratic Primary to announce the party’s choices for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General in the upcoming 2013 general elections.

From left: Mark Herring, Terry McAuliffe, and Ralph Northam.

Former chairman of the national Democratic Party and Fairfax County businessman Terry McAuliffe will face GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in the race for the state’s top job. McAuliffe was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial primary.

State Senator Ralph Northam, (D-Norfolk) was chosen 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, who has called LGBT people “perverse,” pedophiles, and sick, and who has equated Planned Parenthood with the Ku Klux Klan.

The Democratic ticket was rounded out by state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudon), who will face GOP candidate Mark Obenshain, also a Virginia state Senator, in the race for Attorney General.

During Wednesday’s event, McAuliffe’s speech focused on job creation, education and women’s rights, emphasizing the differences between the Democratic and Republican tickets.

But when pressed for his stance on LGBT issues during the question and answer session, McAuliffe pointed at Northam and asked for the next question without responding.

Northam, he only candidate to directly mention support for LGBT issues, said, “The discrimination against the LGBT community needs to stop.”

“The commonwealth of Virginia needs to be all inclusive, we need to attract people to the commonwealth, and certainly we need to have marriage equality in the Commonwealth of the Virginia,” Northam told reporters after his acceptance speech.

Herring also focused on the the opposing views of the Democratic and Republican tickets, but made no reference to LGBT issues.

In contrast, the GOP ticket has been outspoken in their opposition to LGBT rights:

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Cuccinelli, the state’s current Attorney General, has said, “homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong.”

“When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul,” Cuccinelli said in 2008.

Cuccinelli has tried unsuccessfully to reinstate Virginia’s sodomy laws.

Jackson has called gays “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

Obenshain has repeatedly voted against a ban on discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation, and authored Virginia’s law to allow student clubs at public colleges and universities to discriminate in their policies and membership.


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