RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Saturday became the first sitting governor of the state to attend Virginia’s annual LGBT Pridefest.
“It’ a new day in Virginia, I can tell you that folks,” said McAuliffe, speaking in front of thousands of enthusiastic and LGBT Virginians and allies.
“I feel good things are happening and we’re going to have marriage equality here in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said, praising the two same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the federal court challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban.
“I was the first elected official in the south to come out to come out for marriage quality,” he said, adding, “It was the right decision.”
Still in his first year in office, McAuliffe has offered a stark contrast on LGBT issues compared his predecessor, Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell took steps to make adoption nearly impossible for same-sex couples, removed work places protections for LGBT state employees, and was recently convicted on a range of corruption charges and faces federal jail time.
Article continues belowMcAuliffe, however, spent his first moments in office signing an executive order protecting the state’s LGBT employees from discrimination. And he’s voiced his support for state Attorney General Mark Herring’s refusal to defend the state’s ban on same sex marriage.
McAuliffe was also the first Virginia governor to proclaim June LGBT pride month.
“We need to be open and welcoming to everyone,” said McAuliffe, who has said equal rights for LGBT citizens is key to a making Virginia business friendly. “You can not grown an economy when you put walls up around Virginia… no matter who you love, we want you here in Virginia.”