Youngkin says he's 'called to love everyone' but sidesteps marriage equality question

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The Virginia governor nominee acknowledged that same-sex marriage is 'legally acceptable.'

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee for Virginia governor, declined to say if he personally supports same-sex marriage in an interview with the Associated Press published Friday.

After Youngkin talked about his own upbringing and religion, the news outlet asked if his faith influenced his position on same-sex marriage.

Youngkin dodged the question and said he feels "called to love everyone." When pressed if he meant his comments to imply that he supports marriage equality in Virginia, Youngkin answered, "No."

He did acknowledge, however, that same-sex marriage was "legally acceptable," and that he would "support that" as governor.

An aide for Youngkin's campaign subsequently ended the interview with the news outlet.

Youngkin has a reputation of being hard to pin down on his actual policy positions. He has flip-flopped on abolishing Virginia's income tax and has walked back his support for Trumpian "election integrity" efforts in Virginia after winning the Republican primary on the issue.

This is not the first time Youngkin has tried to evade a question about same-sex marriage. In a June New York Times story, Youngkin "declined to say" whether he supports same-sex marriage.

Youngkin's silence on marriage equality has prompted criticism from Democrats, including his opponent in the Virginia governor's race, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

"It's 2021 and Glenn Youngkin refuses to support same-sex marriage," McAuliffe tweeted in August. "That’s disgraceful, and it has no place in our great, inclusive commonwealth."

"While Terry McAuliffe is committed to advancing LGTBQ equality and building a better future for all Virginians, Glenn Youngkin is representing the reprehensible bigotry and exclusion of a bygone era," Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for the Virginia Democratic Party, told LGBTQ Nation in June.

"Youngkin has repeatedly made clear that he does not believe in a Virginia where everyone can live, work, and raise a family without being discriminated against for who they are."

Youngkin has been endorsed by the anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice group Family Research Council Action. Earlier this month, Youngkin attended a gala hosted by the Family Foundation, a Richmond-based group with a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism.

Last month, Youngkin's campaign released a digital ad that featured two women who attended a Sept. 23 Fairfax County School Board meeting to complain about "LGBTQ-themed books" in public school libraries.

"I am here to protest the use of Fairfax taxpayers' money in a campaign to normalize homoerotic material with minors," Adrienne Henzel, one of the women featured in Youngkin's ad, said at the meeting.

She also said pro-LGBTQ library books were part of a larger "indoctrination effort."

Youngkin has vocally supported Tanner Cross, a Loudoun County teacher who was suspended for refusing to use a student's preferred pronouns. Cross said that doing so would be "abuse" and "sin," and would "defile the holy image of God."

"What we're seeing right here, right now in Loudoun County is the liberal left waging a cultural war and the victims are our children," Youngkin said in June.

He added that if he is elected governor, he would "have [Cross'] back" and move to have him reinstated as a teacher.

The Youngkin campaign has noted that in addition to enjoying support from anti-LGBTQ conservative organizations, he has also been endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents LGBTQ Republicans.

Virginia has a long history of Republican candidates who oppose LGBTQ rights. Both Youngkin's running mate, former Del. Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares, the Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general, have spoken out against marriage equality and equal rights for LGBTQ Virginians writ large.

Monmouth University polling has McAuliffe and Youngkin tied at 46% each. For the first time in the Virginia governor campaign, the university — which runs their polling data through various models of the electorate — found Youngkin winning in some scenarios.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.