Virginia lawmaker slams Glenn Youngkin for wildly misleading comments on same-sex marriage

Virginia lawmaker slams Glenn Youngkin for wildly misleading comments on same-sex marriage
Image via Creative Commons.

When Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin made a July 10 appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” one of the subjects that host Robert Costa wanted to discuss was same-sex marriage. Youngkin, during the interview, implied that same-sex marriage was legally protected in his state. But Democratic Virginia State Sen. Adam P. Eppin, in a biting op-ed published by the Washington Post on July 15, takes Youngkin to task — stressing that same-sex marriage isn’t safe in his state.

Same-sex marriage presently enjoys national protection in the United States thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. But when the High Court overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years with its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Court should also “reconsider” Obergefell as well as 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas (which struck down a Texas sodomy law in 2003) and 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut (which protects access to contraception nationwide for married couples).

Obergefell used the same right-to-privacy framework as Roe, and Thomas believes that Obergefell was wrongly decided. If the Court overturned Obergefell, the legality or illegality of same-sex marriage would go back to the individual states — and Virginia, according to Eppin, isn’t a state where same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

READ MORE: With Roe overturned, Clarence Thomas is now preparing for a full-frontal assault on contraception, gay rights

“Nationally, it is clear there is a bull's eye on the LGBTQ community,” Eppin argues. “So, it was disappointing to hear Youngkin, when pressed on whether he intended to protect marriage equality, erroneously reply, ‘In Virginia, we actually do protect same-sex marriage in Virginia. That’s the law in Virginia.’ Let’s set the record straight.”

Eppin continues, “Since the passage of the infamous 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment; Virginia’s Constitution has explicitly banned same-sex marriage. A statutory ban on same-sex marriage remained in the Code of Virginia until it was repealed in 2020. But our Constitution remains preeminent, meaning the thing protecting marriage equality in Virginia is the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.”

The Virginia Democrat goes on to note that Obergefell, like Roe 42 years earlier, was a right-to-privacy decision — and Thomas obviously doesn’t believe there is a right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.

“As the new Supreme Court has lurched to the extreme, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion overturning the right to bodily autonomy protected by Roe v. Wade, outlined the rights he believes should be toppled next — stating all rights born from the right to privacy are ‘erroneously decided’ and ‘errors’ to be ‘corrected,’” Eppin explains. “These rights include same-sex relationships, the right to birth control and the right, decided in Obergefell, to same-sex marriage.”

READ MORE: Far-right Texas AG says he’s 'willing and able' to challenge a landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay rights

In 2015, the majority opinion in Obergefell was written by a Republican: then-Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Kennedy, a right-wing libertarian, was fiscally conservative but was socially liberal when it came to abortion and gay rights — which is why far-right Christian fundamentalists were glad to see him retire in 2018. However, the U.S. Supreme Court of 2022 is dominated by social conservatives, and Thomas enjoys greater influence than he did in the past.

Eppin fears that if Obergefell is overturned, Virginia will not be one of the states where same-sex marriage is protected.

“The governor is either incompetent in his understanding of Virginia law, or he made the deliberate decision to obfuscate his plans for LGBTQ rights in his statement,” Eppin warns. “Though his administration has hit some stumbling blocks early in his tenure, I would have hoped that he has at least read and understands our constitution. The governor knows marriage equality is hanging on by a thread — both in the commonwealth and across the nation — and his disingenuousness and lack of leadership on this issue puts LGBTQ Virginians at risk.

Watch Youngkin’s July 10 appearance on “Face the Nation” below or at this link.

Face The Nation: Youngkin, Raskin, Holder

READ MORE: Legal experts expect major chaos if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell

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