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Virginia GOP censures lawmaker who officiated gay wedding

Rep. Denver Riggleman went “against the values and principles of the Republican party” by officiating the same-sex nuptials, the unanimous resolution stated.
Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020.
Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 30, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

A Republican committee in Virginia unanimously passed a resolution censuring Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., saying he betrayed the party's values when he officiated a same-sex wedding.

The Appomattox County Republican Committee cited a list of issues Saturday for the outgoing Republican's censure in a lengthy resolution. Among the reasons were that Riggleman officiated a wedding last summer for two male campaign aides he described as "friends," a decision that angered many Republicans in his district.

A group of Virginia Republicans, the 5th Congressional District Republican Committee, had also tried to censure him shortly after the event but to no avail.

"In July 2019, Denver Riggleman officiated a same sex wedding which in turn goes against the values and principles of the Republican Party betraying and disregarding the concerns for the many Conservative and Christian voters in the 5th district who elected Denver Riggleman to the United States House of Representatives," the statement issued Saturday by the Appomattox County Republican Committee read.

Other criticisms of the GOP lawmaker included his condemnation of President Donald Trump — along with the president's voter fraud claims — and his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden.

"We will hold accountable all Republican elected officials to stand by the Virginia Republican Creed and National Republican Platform, and to support all our Republican nominees," the group commented in a follow-up statement on its Facebook post.

Riggleman, who was elected in 2018 but lost his re-election bid during a Republican state convention over the summer, took to Twitter to respond to the statement. "Glad the @VA_GOP finally admits they rig a convention because of the wedding. We already knew this, but here's your sign," he wrote.

Shortly after he officiated the same-sex wedding last summer, the Virginia congressman shared his thoughts on same-sex marriage: “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," he told The Washington Post.

Riggleman, however, has had a complicated relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights. The congressman voted against the Equality Act, a proposed bill that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity protections to existing civil rights law. He also voted against a resolution opposing Trump's ban of transgender people from serving in the military last year.

The Republican National Committee has made its current stance on gay marriage clear.

The committee decided against adopting a new platform this presidential year – breaking a tradition that had existed since 1856, according to The New York Times. The party reaffirmed its 2016 platform at the Republican convention in August and pledged its support for Trump. The repurposed resolution included five references to marriage being exclusively between "one man and one woman."

Republican Bob Good, a self-described "biblical conservative" who called the coronavirus outbreak a "phony pandemic" at a Trump rally over the weekend, is set to take Riggleman's seat next month.

Riggleman, whose grandmother is sick in the hospital with Covid-19 and whose brother works as a critical care nurse, tweeted a response: "Saying #COVID is fake is irresponsible, embarrassing and everything that is wrong with politics. Virginia deserves better."

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