I've made it clear that Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones (pictured above) should not be Democratic Party of Virginia chair if he cannot separate his personal beliefs as a Baptist pastor from the civil laws issues concerning marriage, particularly same sex marriage. Elected officials are sworn to uphold the Constitution, not the Bible and, if Jones, cannot do that, then not only should he not be DPVA chair, but he also needs to resign as mayor of Richmond. The issue of ones' lack of support for marriage equality has created an unneeded controversy as Democrats head into an important mid-term election cycle. In close elections, the LGBT vote can and does determine who wins. Equality Virginia met with Jones and purports that the meeting was "productive." Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch:
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s pick for chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, met Monday afternoon with Equality Virginia.
A spokeswoman for Equality Virginia said the meeting was “very productive.”
The meeting — five days before the party elects its new leader — comes amid concerns in some quarters about Jones because he has not endorsed same-sex marriage.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Jones said that his position on the issue has changed over the years, and continues to “evolve.”
“I reiterated my position that I believe our laws should not be discriminatory. I also had the opportunity to share about my own personal evolution on issues that concern the LGBT community; an evolution that anchors many of the actions I’ve already taken in support of equal treatment. My position continues to evolve,” Jones said.
"However given the recent media attention for his nomination for party chair, it was important today to hear Mayor Jones reiterate his commitment to leading the Democratic Party in seeking the full equality all Virginians deserve. The freedom to marry is a fundamental right and EV Advocates looks forward to working with both parties to ensure that all Virginians can soon marry the person they love in the place they call home. "
LGBT Democrats of Virginia has urged the party to pick a chairman who supports marriage equality. At least five of the party’s Northern Virginia congressional hopefuls have expressed concern about Jones’ candidacy.
State party leaders have rallied behind Jones, including McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark R. Herring — who refused to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage — and Democratic leaders in the state Senate and House of Delegates.
Tammy Hawley, Jones’ spokeswoman, said last week the mayor has “always made it clear that he will stand up for all laws that protect constitutional rights” and that he does not believe that Virginia’s laws should be discriminatory. “What he believes in is equal protection under the law for all persons,” Hawley said.
If Jones truly believes in equal protection under the law for all persons, he should support civil law marriage equality. If he refuses to do so, then he is merely talking out of both sides of his mouth. Civil law marriage in no way forces his congregation to let go of their backwardness and bigotry within the congregation. Jones does NOT get to have it both ways.