AG Candidate Mark Herring Speaks at GCCR Director’s House
Wednesday’s rain didn’t keep Democratic Candidate for VA Attorney General Senator Mark Herring from stumping in Richmond. He spent his cold and wet Wednesday night in the cozy (and adorable) home of Bill Harrison, the Gay Community Center of Richmond’s Executive Director, drumming up support for his campaign.
“I have always been proud to be a Virginian, but I am so tired of picking up the newspaper and seeing articles about corruption in the Virginia government,” said Harrison. “And, I can assure you, if you think (Republican candidate for AG Mark) Obenshain isn’t a carbon-copy of Cuccinelli, you just need to look at his voting record, they fit like a hand in a glove.”
About 60+ people were crammed into Harrison’s Byrd Park home to hear the candidate speak, but Herring wasn’t the only elected official in the room. Delegate Betsy Carr of the 69th District, helped open the speeches for the night.
Delegate Betsy Carr and Senator Herring
“Herring will be doing what needs to be done with the law, not pushing a social agenda… we need him, and we need you voting for him,” said Carr. “We have got to make sure our attorney general and our ticket is selected by everyone in the state, not just a select few, not just those with an agenda.”
Herring is nearly neck and neck with his opponent Senator Mark Obenshain at 45% to 42% according to a recent Christopher Newport University poll. This number is within the poll’s 3% margin of error. But despite these numbers, Herring had grave warnings about a future with Obenshain in the AG’s office.
“With the folks in this room, I don’t think I have to tell you what it’s been like living with (Ken Cuccienlli) as our AG cause, you know,” said Herring referring to the mostly LGBT audience and Cuccinelli’s frequent and vocal anti-equality actions. “He’s bent and twisted the law in order to impose policies on Virginians that are way outside of the main stream. And my opponent Mark Obenshain would be a continuation of that.”
Herring brought up Obenshain’s voting record, including his suppression of women’s rights, his sponsorship of the personhood amendment (along side running mate Cuccinelli) and his numerous affronts to the LGBTQ community.
“We cannot afford to have another AG like the one we have, and I’m running to take that kind of politics and ideology out of the office,” said Herring. “I will defend people s civil rights, voting rights, women’s access to the full range of health services, protect the rights of all Virginians, and I support marriage equality.”
Equality Virginia’s Executive Director James Parish was also in the room for the event. He spoke before the crowd and called Herring an advocate for his attempts to support LGBT adoption in Virginia back in 2012.
According to Parrish, when the conscience clause, which allowed state-funded adoption agencies to deny adoptions based on the groups beliefs including sexual orientation, went before a committee Herring was on, the candidate worked hard to protect LGBT families and children.
Parrish and Herring
“It wasn’t a conscience clause it was a bill to deny protection for LGBT youth in our foster system, and it was a bill to deny LGBT parents adoptions in our system,” said Parrish. “And Herring stood up for us… and that is what we need, advocates who will stand up for us.”
In a brief interview following his stump speech, Herring spoke with GayRVA a bit more about the power he would have in regards to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The Attorney General’s office is one of the few positions that could have the power to impact the future of this issue by denying to defend the state’s law – like in California with Prop 8 and in PA, when the state’s AG refused to defend her state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
With two law suits against the state over the marriage ban, Herring would be in a prime position to enact a real change. The candidate, however, spoke cautiously on the issue.
“I am skeptical (VA’s ban on same-sex marriage) will be able to stand constitutional scrutiny,” said Herring after mentioning the specifics of the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA ruling. “I will bring legal experts in, and I will review very carefully with them the constitutionality of the cases, and review the different SCOTUS precedence and other precedence in a very thoughtful and deliberate way, and I will see if the law is constitutional and take appropriate action in light of that.”
Election day is Nov. 5, 2013.
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