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Virginia GOP will not censure state rep who officiated at same-sex ‘wedding’

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ROANOKE, Virginia, July 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Two groups of Virginia Republicans have tried to censure House rep. Denver Riggleman, who officiated at a ceremony claiming to join two men in marriage earlier in the month.

After the Republican Committee of the 5th Congressional District of Virginia failed on Saturday to pass a motion of censure of Congressman Riggleman, GOP activist Diana Shores led an effort by the Cumberland County Republican Committee to reprimand him on Monday, according to the Roanoke Times. According to NBC, Shores supports the freshman Riggleman on most issues but cannot endorse his officiating at a same-sex ceremony.

According to a statement to NBC, she said, “Mr. Riggleman, who claims to want government out of marriage, acted as an elected official to perform a marriage [sic].” Shores said, “Then, he made it clear in the communications that followed to the leadership of the district that he didn’t care what we thought about the actions.” While admitting that each Republican district committee can decide on whether or not Riggleman represents their values, she said, “As for me, he doesn't represent mine.”

Shores, a pro-life conservative, backed Cynthia Dunbar, who had unsuccessfully challenged Riggleman during the Republican primary race in 2016. Dunbar lost to Riggleman by just one vote. Monday was Shores’s last day as chair in Cumberland County. She is reportedly moving to neighboring Prince Edward County.

After the failed attempt at censure on Saturday, Melvin Adams, who chairs the 5th District Republican Committee, stated on the committee’s website that the committee remains “absolutely committed to inclusiveness” and does “not discriminate against anyone.” In an apparent contradiction, however, the website affirmed that the committee is also “absolutely committed” to the platform of the national Republican Party. It even went so far as to quote the planks in the platform that are opposed by LGBT campaigners. The platform states: “[W]e do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

On July 14, wealthy distiller Riggleman officiated at the ceremony purporting to unite two of his male Republican supporters. A statement from his office noted that he was “happy” to officiate and that he is “proud” of the two young men. “My real belief is that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, but if it is, everybody has to be treated equally before the law,” Riggleman told the Washington Post. “That is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love. I’m happy to join two people together who obviously love each other.”

Some Republicans are backing away from the reprimand issued by the Republicans in Virginia. According to NBC, Virginia GOP spokesman John March said the efforts by Republicans of the 5th District to reprimand Riggleman were “not authorized by our leadership in any way shape or form.”

The state GOP has not taken any action on the matter. State GOP executive director John Findlay said he doubted that the Cumberland County GOP committee had the proper quorum to reprimand Riggleman.

So far, no Republicans are challenging Riggleman’s re-election.

At the Washington Examiner, widely considered a conservative publication, Brad Palumbo wrote in an opinion piece that local Virginia Republicans’ efforts to censure Riggleman are “embarrassing and petty.” Slamming the conservatives for alleged “intolerance,” Palumbo claimed that 40% of Republicans support same-sex “marriage.” 

Palumbo wrote:

To be clear, the problem is not that Johnson and his colleagues don’t support same-sex marriage. They are entitled to their view, but not to punish Riggleman for breaking ranks. The Republican coalition must be a big tent, with room for people of varying views who unite around the principles of limited government, constitutional conservatism, and individual liberty.

Intolerant Virginia GOP officials have to accept that, or else they should be tossed out. I’d like to see more Republicans follow Riggleman’s lead. And luckily, the congressman doesn’t seem too discouraged.

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