BATSUKH: Virginia Republican’s Fifth District Chairman must resign

Recent comments by the 5th District GOP Chairman demand the attention of Republicans in Virginia

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Refreshing, unified strains of conservative thought are the key to winning elections going forward, and must include support for marriage equality. 

Riley Walsh | Cavalier Daily

In July, Fifth Congressional District Congressman Denver Riggleman officiated a wedding between two volunteers from his campaign, both of whom are men. Soon after, members of the Fifth Congressional District Republican Committee attempted to censure Congressman Riggleman for violating the party platform, but failed when the motion was declared out of order. To my great disappointment, several local Republican committees proceeded to pass resolutions disapproving of the congressman’s actions. This alone was egregious and worthy of reprimand, but the very man who prevented a motion to censure by the district committee, Chairman Melvin Adams, expressed shockingly homophobic sentiments, approving of a comparison of homosexuality with pedophilia. This line of thought is a relic of Virginia’s less than perfect past and demands immediate redress. It is long past time for Virginia Republicans to condemn and reform in the face of such indecency.

The College Republicans at U.Va., at Longwood University and the College Republican Federation of Virginia as a whole have all condemned Adams’ statement and requested his resignation. Clearly, the youth of the Virginia GOP is no longer willing to tolerate the repugnant attitudes that some older members of the party still hold. Indeed, an overwhelming 83 percent majority of adults 18-29 across the country support marriage equality, and that number will likely only increase. As a major component of grassroots support for GOP candidates, College Republicans is an integral part of the party’s efforts to elect conservative candidates across the Commonwealth. Defending entrenched homophobia in the party is a fruitless and malignant endeavor, and young Republicans across Virginia have realized just that. On Sept. 9, various leaders in the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, the party’s high school wing, asked for Adams’ resignation as well.

When Riggleman officiated his staffers’ wedding, he demonstrated the sense of morality that got him elected in the Fifth District. To oppose his vision on this issue is to defy the will of Virginia’s electorate — nothing is quite so pointless as a district committee out of touch with its own constituency’s values. In order to begin mending the rifts caused by this summer’s Fifth District controversy, I believe Adams must resign, along with any in party leadership who agree with his line of thinking. Only then can the party move on to bigger and better issues, such as preserving the liberty of Virginians, reducing healthcare costs and lowering taxes.

Intolerance has been defeated at the ballot boxes in Virginia as Cory Stewart’s 2018 US Senate run proved. If Stewart’s embarrassing loss to incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) hasn’t been enough to indicate the necessity of reforms to the party platform, then Adams’ behavior certainly ought to be. Former Governor George Allen and even Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, have sided with Riggleman in this spat. To keep the party unified and to help win the General Assembly this coming November, it’s necessary Republicans put such foolish intolerance in our past. Adams would do himself, his family and the Commonwealth a service by resigning his post and working to leave the party in the more than capable hands of a new generation of conservatives. His service to the party has been meritorious at times, but his time is now past.      

Never has being the big tent party been more important than now. With the Democratic Party veering leftwards in the presidential primary every day, and a host of state legislatures to win in the near future, the GOP must clarify its stance on tolerance. Refreshing, unified strains of conservative thought are the key to winning elections going forward, and must include support for marriage equality. We must support Log Cabin Republican groups, clean bigotry out of our own ranks and create a party that all Americans ⁠— regardless of sexual orientation⁠ — feel at home in.

Bilge Batsukh is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com

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