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Attempt to Censor GOP Congressman After Officiating Gay Wedding Fails

Rep. Denver Riggleman
Campaign photograph

Rep. Denver Riggleman maintains love is love. Some constituents disagree.

Virginia Republicans failed in an attempt to censure a Congressman for officiating a same-sex wedding.

Rep. Denver Riggleman made national news when he presided over the marriage of Anthony LeCounte and Alex Pisciarino. It marked the first time a Southern Republican had performed such a ceremony while in office, according to The Washington Post.

But that upset some party activists in the conservative House District 5 in Virginia, who called for his censure within the Repulican party. Those efforts did not get far, according to The Roanoke Times. Dozens attended a hastily called GOP meeting on the matter but just four members supported hearing a censure motion.

Wendell Johnson, a Virginia GOP activist, brought the motion forward, first in a closed session and then during a portion of the meeting open to the press.

"I'm pleased with what Denver is doing, but I just disagree with him over this issue," Johnson told the Times.

District committee chair Melvin Adams said discussing the motion in open forum was out of order, as the issue had been voted on in closed session. The vote tally from that vote was not made public but it did not pass.

Riggleman made a conservative case to the Post for same-sex weddings.

"My real belief is that government shouldn't be involved in marriage at all, but if it is, everybody has to be treated equally before the law," he said. "That is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love."

Along the same lines, Riggleman's Democratic opponent last election accused the Republican of holding an interest in Bigfoot erotica. He denied this claim.

Riggleman did not attend the meeting about his potential censure.

The local newspaper highlighted a divide within the party regarding marriage equality. Riggleman comes from a libertarian leaning wing of the party, while many in the largely rural county remain religious conservatives.

To date, no Republican has filed to challenge Riggleman in the GOP primary for his re-election.

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