The Human Rights Campaign hosted a panel of LGBTQ+ Virginia voters on Tuesday that included the lead plaintiffs in a historic Virginia marriage equality case.
The group responded to comments made by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who indicated to the Associated Press in an interview for a story published last week that he opposes same-sex marriage.
The issue came up, according to the story written by AP’s Sarah Rankin, in the context of discussing how Youngkin had said his faith impresses on him the importance of loving others.
Asked whether his faith shapes his view of same-sex marriage, Youngkin, according to Rankin, was at first vague, saying he feels “called to love everyone.”
But when pressed on whether he intended with that answer to convey his support for same-sex marriage, Youngkin responded, “No.”
He then added that same-sex marriage is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and that “I, as governor, will support that.”
Youngkin’s position runs counter to the values of a vast majority of Virginians, including a majority of Independents and Republicans who support marriage equality.
Youngkin’s statement threatens to make Virginia a far less safe and welcoming place for families.
On Saturday, former President Barack Obama panned Youngkin’s position at a rally in support of Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, saying “Are we still arguing about gay marriage? Really? I thought that ship had sailed…I thought that was pretty clearly the right thing to do.”
“What worries me about a potential Gov. Youngkin is that he wouldn’t care about our families, he would simply tolerate our families,” said Carol Schall, an LGBTQ+ Virginia voter and a plaintiff in the historic case for marriage equality in Virginia. “It really scares me to my bones, it makes my hair stand up on edge to think that I might have a governor that doesn’t consider me his constituent — that doesn’t consider our family important, that weighs his family as more important than our little family.
“We pay our taxes, we work hard, we raised a child who’s now in graduate school who we’re very proud of and who’s dependent on us to be legally recognized as her family, and the fact that we might have a Youngkin administration that would work against that progress really scares me,” Schall said. “Our family is built on love: love for each other and love for our community. When we pay our taxes, we’re supporting our community. We’re supporting the teachers, the PTA, the firefighters, the first responders, the police officers who work to make our community safe. We’re speaking today because we believe in community and we believe that everyone has value.”
“When we have leaders that have lackluster or hostile views about the role that LGBTQ+ people play in the economy, it sends a chilling message in terms of recruiting talent and keeping it,” said Witeck, an LGBTQ+ Virginia voter and business owner. “The economy is encouraged or enhanced significantly by policies that recognize all of our families. By doing that, it’s a win-win-win, and if a leader doesn’t get it, they are not worthy or qualified to lead this economy into the future.”
“It’s not just the law. Our leaders set the tone for public discourse and we’ve seen how when our leaders express their bigotry, it emboldens people,” said Hish, an LGBTQ+ Virginia voter and business owner. “Even though the law says our relationship is supposed to be recognized, we could end up at a hospital or somewhere where someone feels emboldened by our governor’s prejudice to deny us access. It really is scary to think about.”