To some surprise, Youngkin hosts series of Pride events

Jun 10, 2022, 12:44 AM | Updated: 9:31 pm
Nat McKeller Crosby, left, greets Lisa Turner in front of the State Capitol, Wednesday June 8, 2022...

Nat McKeller Crosby, left, greets Lisa Turner in front of the State Capitol, Wednesday June 8, 2022, in Richmond, Va. The pair decided not to attend a reception at the Capitol given by Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for Pride Month. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — When Republican Glenn Youngkin was running to be Virginia’s governor, he defended a teacher suspended over an objection to using students’ preferred pronouns. He opposed transgender children playing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity, and he indicated a personal objection to same-sex marriage.

Given those positions, it generated some bipartisan surprise in Richmond this week when he hosted a reception celebrating Pride month at the Virginia Capitol.

The event astonished and angered many LGBTQ advocates, who called the festivities hypocritical and chose not to attend. But Youngkin’s supporters held up the event as an example of the conservative governor living up to a central campaign promise to serve as a unifier who cares for all his constituents.

“I think this demonstration of outreach, of genuine communication is reflective of why he was elected,” said Michael Berlucchi, a city councilman from Virginia Beach, Republican and member of the state’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board who attended the reception.

Youngkin, a former private equity executive, became the first Republican in almost a decade to occupy the governor’s mansion in this blue-leaning state after defeating former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a costly, high-profile race last year.

Openly religious — he once helped found a church in his basement and often opens meetings in prayer — Youngkin essentially avoided the issue of gay marriage on the campaign trail, declining to say in one interview whether he supported it. The Associated Press pressed him again in October, and he indicated that while he did not personally support same-sex marriage, it was “legally acceptable” and he would “support that.” He also emphasized that his faith calls him “to love everyone.”

Lisa Turner, who serves on the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board with Berlucchi and chairs the group created to advise the governor, said the Youngkin administration has been less than engaged with its efforts so far and took issue with how Pride month was handled.

Turner said she asked the administration for a Pride month proclamation — a ceremonial recognition that’s standard for other heritage months. It didn’t happen. She also said she was initially told by an administration liaison that there would be no Pride month programming and that perhaps the group should convene somewhere other than Richmond for a meeting that also happened to be on Wednesday. She wasn’t informed of the reception — which she opted not to attend — until a week prior, she said.

However, Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said the June events were planned well in advance.

“The Governor is committed to leading on behalf of all Virginians. We are one Virginia and engagements help strengthen our communities and the spirit of Virginia,” she said in a statement.

Berlucchi said about 50 people attended the reception in the Capitol rotunda, smaller than similar events during the past two Democratic administrations. The reception was closed to the press, typical for such events, but the administration also took the step of closing the public building entirely at the time.

Several of the state’s leading LGBTQ advocacy groups issued a joint news release condemning what they called the governor’s “hypocrisy” in hosting the event.

“I was shocked. I was disappointed. I was slightly amused,” Narissa Rahaman, executive director of Equality Virginia Advocates, said of her reaction to learning that the event would take place. Rahaman said she was not extended an invitation.

James Millner, director of Virginia Pride, said in a statement that he was invited but would not attend.

“I appreciate the Governor’s invitation, but I think it is premature for this administration to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality when it has yet to take any meaningful steps to advance it,” Millner said.

Meanwhile, Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia — which opposes same-sex marriage — stopped short of criticizing Youngkin.

“The Governor should meet with citizen groups to discuss their concerns but given that nothing less than total capitulation to the LGBT agenda will appease these groups, this seems like a distraction,” she said in a statement.

Veteran political analyst Bob Holsworth said he couldn’t recall a similar Pride commemoration by another Republican administration. But he noted that public opinion on the issue has shifted since Virginia last had a GOP chief executive.

Youngkin also hosted a luncheon at the governor’s mansion this month with members of the LGBTQ community and attended a roundtable Thursday hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ advocacy group whose endorsement he touted during his campaign.

Casey Flores, president of the group’s newly organized Richmond chapter and an attendee of the luncheon, said he had no problem with a governor maintaining a faith-based opposition to homosexuality, and he criticized the backlash to this week’s events.

“The Democrat Party and the people on the left, the left-leaning organizations, they all lambaste Republicans for not embracing the gay community. And then when one does, they lambaste and they lose their minds,” he said.

No LGBTQ state lawmakers were extended an invitation to Wednesday’s reception, according to Turner.

Democratic Del. Danica Roem, who is transgender, equated the event to sending LGBTQ constituents “thoughts and prayers.”

Roem was particularly disappointed that the governor’s office was publicly silent earlier this year on a legislative push blocked by House Republicans to remove a defunct provision prohibiting gay marriage from the state constitution. It’s a matter of urgency, she said, at a time when some advocates increasingly fear the right of same-sex couples to marry could someday be stripped away by the Supreme Court.

Turner wondered if what seemed like a last-minute jostling to schedule a few Pride events was a response to a recent virtual attack against her group, when an online meeting was flooded with racist and homophobic messages and imagery, according to VPM News. She noted that Youngkin made an appearance at the group’s Wednesday meeting, where he condemned the harassment, but said she thinks the administration could do far more to advocate for Virginia’s LGBTQ community.

“Just having a Pride event is not as significant as actually putting in the footwork to make sure that the community has protections,” she said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

North Texas shooter kills 2, wounds 3 cops, takes own life

HALTOM CITY, Texas (AP) — A gunman killed two people and wounded four others, including three police officers, before taking his own life Saturday evening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police said. Haltom City Police Det. Matt Spillane said early Sunday that all of those wounded in the shooting in a residential neighborhood had non-life […]
23 hours ago
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 file photo, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent f...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. I could barely whisper, “Please help us.” Our driver raced […]
23 hours ago
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo, Associated Press journalist Kathy Gannon poses for a photog...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. Anja weighed heavy against my shoulder. I tried to look […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: July 3, Union wins at Gettysburg

Today in History Today is Sunday, July 3, the 184th day of 2022. There are 181 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On July 3, 1976, Israel launched its daring mission to rescue 106 passengers and Air France crew members being held at Entebbe (en-TEH’-bee) Airport in Uganda (yoo-GAHN’-dah) by pro-Palestinian hijackers; […]
23 hours ago
FILE - In this photo provided by South Korea's Defense Ministry, U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carr...
Associated Press

North Korea slams US-South Korea-Japan military cooperation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Sunday slammed the United States, South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move is prompting urgent calls for the country to reinforce its military capability. North Korea has long cited what it calls hostility by the […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

DC police: 2 die when truck hits bicyclist, fireworks stand

WASHINGTON (AP) — A truck hit a bicyclist and careened into a fireworks stand Saturday evening at an intersection in northeast Washington, killing the bicyclist and a man working in the stand, police said. No other injuries were reported. The accident at the corner of Minnesota Avenue and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE occurred about […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
To some surprise, Youngkin hosts series of Pride events