Youngkin defends portrayal of gay-marriage rights as business ranking slips


RICHMOND – Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Wednesday he was right to tell a national television audience that Virginia law protects same-sex marriage rights, although such unions would be banned in the state if the court The United States Supreme Court is reversing this issue.

Youngkin, a Republican who has leaned toward some cultural wars but mostly dodged LGBTQ issues, defended his statements, as the state he has ruled for six months fell to an annual ranking of the best states for to companies, in part because of a lower score for “life”. , health and inclusion ”. The qualification of the state staff was also successful in the CNBC ranking, which covers a period ruled in part by Youngkin’s Democratic predecessor, Ralph Northam.

During an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Youngkin gave the impression that same-sex marriage rights would be safe in Virginia, regardless of whether the Supreme Court reconsiders and reverses its 2015 decision to legalize these. unions across the country.

The governor’s appearance was part of a recent media bombardment that Youngkin, a former private equity mogul who invested $ 20 million of his own money in last year’s campaign, launched the month past in the middle of tracks he considered a presidential candidacy in 2024.

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The political newcomer walked the tightrope to the executive mansion, selling himself as a social conservative at the GOP base and as a cheerful, common-sense business leader to the suburban moderates. His sometimes witty and sometimes awkward balancing act, more pronounced than ever in the midst of the 2024 mockery, was shown during Sunday’s interview when Youngkin answered questions about abortion and former President Donald Trump , as well as same-sex marriage.

In a conference call Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers called the fall in CNBC’s state rating as proof that Youngkin’s conservative social agenda has made the state less attractive to businesses. Virginia achieved the first ranking two years in a row under Northam before falling to third place this year, behind North Carolina and Washington state.

“High-tech companies want a welcoming, friendly Virginia,” says Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-Fairfax). “It simply came to our notice then. … Governor Youngkin is focusing on issues of social division because he believes it will give him an edge in a presidential nomination with a lot of people trying to outdo themselves. And it’s hurting Virginia.

Youngkin, who ran arguing that the state was in an economic “meltdown,” has attracted some reputable companies, such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lego. Lego, however, expressed some concern about the governor’s conservative positions on race and the environment when he announced plans to build a $ 1 billion factory in Chesterfield County.

Lego was prepared for questions about Youngkin and the critical theory of race in Va.

Youngkin noted that Virginia’s scores improved “materially” in two areas it has focused on: infrastructure and business ease.

“The key here is for this economy to move and we’ve had to dig a hole,” he said.

Youngkin’s comments about same-sex marriage came during a studio interview with CBS’s Robert Costa. Given the right-wing turn of the Supreme Court, Costa asked Youngkin if he would go on to codify same-sex marriage rights in Virginia if the court ever overturns his 2015 sentence in Virginia. Obergefell against Hodges.

“We actually protect same-sex marriage in Virginia,” Youngkin responded. “This is the law in Virginia, and therefore, as governor of Virginia, we protect same-sex marriage.”

But state law does not protect these unions. In fact, the Virginia Constitution prohibits same-sex marriage under an amendment passed in 2006 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. While the ban was later extinguished Obergefell, the language remains in the constitution and would become operational again if the Supreme Court reversed. Republicans in the House of Delegates killed an effort this year to eliminate that language.

“This amendment makes it clear that no other relationship can, by law, have the status of legal marriage,” said AE Dick Howard, a law professor at the University of Virginia who helped write the latest version of the state constitution. . “Yes Obergefell had to be annulled, then, in Virginia, the amendment of the marriage would have priority over any conflicting provision of state law. Same-sex marriages would not be recognized in Virginia. “

When asked Wednesday in an appearance in Richmond if he had misrepresented Virginia’s law on the Coast, Youngkin insisted that his comments accurately reflect the current state of same-sex rights given the protections granted to the entire country. Obergefell.

“I didn’t speak ill of Virginia’s current law,” he said. “Men of the same sex [marriage] is protected in Virginia and will continue to be so. And I understand that the media likes to live in the world of the hypothetical. … We have had a Supreme Court ruling defending gay marriage in Virginia and this is where the law is. … I can’t live in the world of the hypothetical ”.

Youngkin gave no indication to Costa that he refused to have a hypothetical post-Obergefell United States. His response, therefore, gave the impression that Virginia law would protect same-sex marriage rights if national protections disappeared, a possibility that some legal observers think is more likely given the conservative constitution of the court and the will to overthrow a much more established precedent in Roe against Wadethe nearly 50-year-old decision that had established the right to abortion nationwide.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter called for the possibility of the Supreme Court reconsidering Obergefell an “extreme hypothetical situation.”

In his concurring opinion in the case he annulled RoeJudge Clarence Thomas said the court should re-examine the constitutional foundations of a number of judicial precedents, including Obergefell. None of the other judges agreed with his opinion.

Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who was the first openly gay lawmaker in the state when he took office in 2012, does not see the loss of same-sex marriage rights as a hypothetical unlikely .

“The amendment against equality against marriage of the Virginia Constitution would serve as a de facto activating law in the event that the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality would depend on states, as they did recently with abortion,” he said. to say.

Youngkin has some allies among conservative LGBTQ groups, including Log Cabin Republicans, to whom he made some very cautious proposals during Pride Month. Some of them share Ebbin’s suspicion about the loss of marital rights if the state does not change its constitution.

Governor Youngkin, who waged cultural wars, takes a prudent approach to Pride

“I see the potential [the Supreme Court] return it to the states safely in the same way they did Roe against Wade”Said Casey Flores, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Richmond and a Youngkin appointee on the state’s LGBTQ Plus Advisory Board.

At a private luncheon with Log Cabin Republicans at the mansion in June, Youngkin made no political statements or promises, but seemed to hear how guests said they would continue to push for the repeal of the same-sex marriage ban. sex, Flores said.

To change the constitution, a resolution would have to be approved by the General Assembly twice before going to a public vote in a general election. Governors do not have the opportunity to sign or veto resolutions, but they can play an important role in defending or opposing them.

“I hope he” supports the effort, Flores said. “Frankly, I’ve seen him pressured into that [before]. … There doesn’t seem to have been a solid response. ”

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