Thursday, July 06, 2017

Republicans to Use Virginia AG Race to Attack LGBT Rights

John Adams with Jill Vogel and Ed Gillespie - be very afraid

This fall's Virginia elections are likely to draw much more national attention than in other years and, frighteningly, rolling back LGBT rights and reversing the legalization of same sex marriage appears to be one of the preferred talking points of the GOP attorney general candidate, John Adams.  Adams may come across as a more polished version of Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli, but he is every bit as much of an extremist as Cuccinelli.  Especially on the issue of LGBT rights. Among the knuckle draggers of Virginia rural areas and so-called Tea Party activists - actually Christian extremists hiding under a different label - the message resonates and it will be critical that progressives and the LGBT community not discount the danger Adams and the rest of the Republican ticket pose to basic civil rights.  Not only is Adams and anti-gay extremist, but he is also a huge fan of voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising as many minority voters and Democrat leaning voters as possible.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the extreme agenda Adams and his fellow ticket mates will be pushing. Here are excerpts:
John Adams, the prominent Richmond lawyer who wants to be Virginia’s next attorney general, is no fan of the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
“Totally made up, totally made up,” he told a Tea Party gathering in Virginia Beach last year. “Not in the constitution anywhere.”
But the Republican also told the crowd they had to live with the high court’s ruling unless one of two things happens. Either Virginia secedes from the union, something that did not work out so well 150 years ago. Or the court gets a big makeover.
“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I clerked for Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. You give me four more Clarence Thomases, we’re good. OK? I’m not kidding. We’re good. Because they will fix that court in a minute.”
Adams is running as both blunt conservative and strict adherent to the rule of law. The premise of his campaign is that Herring is neither – that the sitting attorney general has bent the law to advance a liberal agenda . . . Herring, of course, flatly disagrees with that notion. He won election four years ago promising to “take the politics out of the office,” a swipe at the activist tenure of his conservative Republican predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli II.
As attorney general, Herring went on to advance gay rights and abortion access, offer in-state tuition to certain illegal immigrants and to tighten gun control. Herring contends all of his moves were grounded in the law.
Virginia’s race plays out as national forces have politicized the office of state attorney general around the country. Herring and other Democratic attorneys general are branding themselves as the “resistance” to President Donald Trump, much as Republicans cast themselves as a firewall against President Barack Obama’s “overreach.”
Ahead of Virginia’s November election — the nation’s only attorney general’s contest in 2017 —the Republican Attorneys General Association voted early this year to scrap a long-standing “gentlemen’s agreement” with its Democratic counterpart to stay out of contests with an incumbent.
Long regarded as head of the state’s law firm and sometimes as Virginia’s top cop, the attorney general has evolved in recent years into a high-profile, highly politicized figure, said Bob Holsworth, a longtime Richmond political analyst.  “Cuccinelli began the change,” Holsworth said, referring to the attorney general who filed the first suit against “Obamacare,” investigated a university climate scientist and played hardball with the state Board of Health over abortion.
The Herring-Adams contest could grab more of the spotlight than usual. Republicans plan to play up the down-ticket race since Herring is more of a lightening rod than the low-key Northam.  “Mark Herring fires up our base,” House Speaker-designee Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said with a mock shudder.
And Democrats are zeroing in on Adams’s conservative views as they try to paint the Republican ticket as too far right for a changing Virginia. Gillespie treads lightly on social issues, as does the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Jill Holtzman Vogel (Fauquier). Adams speaks far more frankly.  . . . Adams volunteers his personal opposition to gay marriage on his web site.
Democrats say Adams takes after someone else: Cuccinelli. They have seized on pro bono, friend-of-the-court briefs Adams wrote supporting the rights of two organizations – the Hobby Lobby retail chain and the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns – to be exempted from an Obamacare birth-control mandate due to religious objections.
“He did it on his own, in his spare time,” Herring said in a June 17 debate with Adams in Virginia Beach. “That’s where his passion is, in taking people’s rights away from them.” . . . Adams said his only interest was in protecting religious freedom [the right's code name for license to discriminate laws].
Do not be fooled by Gillespie's and Vogel's relative silence on far right issues.  While not voicing Adams' views, they will nonetheless pursue them if elected to office.  Virginia's women, minorities, non-Christians and gays should be terrified by all three of these candidates. 

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