Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Obama Draws Attention to, Criticizes Republican Assault on Marriage Equality

Former President Barack Obama at McAuliffe rally

At an event in Richmond, Va., on Saturday supporting Terry McAuliffe, Virginia's Democratic candidate for governor, former President Barack Obama took aim at McAuliffe’s opponent’s recent admission that he does not support same-sex marriage.

“Are we still arguing about gay marriage? Really? I thought that ship had sailed,” Obama said to the crowd at Virginia Commonwealth University. “I thought that was pretty clearly the right thing to do.”

The comments were in reference to an interview the Associated Press published last week with McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin. He told the news wire that he feels “called to love everyone” because of his Christian faith. However, when the AP asked if that included support for same-sex marriage, he said, “No.” Youngkin added that marriage equality was “legally acceptable” in the commonwealth and that he “as governor, will support that.”

In response to the AP interview, McAuliffe, who is running for a second term as governor of Virginia, took to social media to reinforce his support for marriage equality. He wrote, “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all. This type of bigotry and intolerance has NO place in our Commonwealth.”

He added that he was the first Southern governor to officiate a same-sex marriage.

“Glenn Youngkin’s opposition to marriage equality is yet another example of how far outside the mainstream and out of touch Youngkin is — not just with a large majority of Virginians, but the majority of Independents and Republicans who support marriage equality as well,” Human Rights Campaign's interim president, Joni Madison, said in a statement. “The choice facing Virginians could not be more stark between Terry McAuliffe, a champion for LGBTQ+ equality who will ensure every Virginian is treated equally, lives free from fear, and thrives, and Glenn Youngkin, an extremist whose opposition to marriage equality and threats to allow businesses to discriminate will make the Commonwealth far less welcoming.”

The Virginia race is understood to be a litmus test of sorts for Biden’s administration as well as what is to come for the 2022 midterm elections. The race has tightened in recent weeks with Youngkin gaining in the polls, according to Agence France-Presse.

“I’m here today because I believe Virginia will make the right choice. I believe America, ultimately, will make the right choice,” Obama told Saturday's attendees. “I believe you right here in Virginia are going to show the rest of the country, and the world, that we’re not going to indulge in our worst instincts. We’re not going to go back to the past that did so much damage, we’re going to move forward with people like Terry leading the way.”

Youngkin is not the only Republican in the news for his opposition to marriage equality. Obama’s comments come only a day after a letter from Texas state Rep. James White to the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton made the rounds on social media. In the letter, White questions the legality of same-sex marriage in Texas and asks Paxton to clarify the issue.

“The State of Texas has not amended or repealed its marriage laws in response to Obergefell v. Hodges. ;… And the Supreme Court has no power to amend formally or revoke a state statute or constitutional provision — even after opining that the state law violates the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution,” White wrote.

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