UPDATED: Deeds on Gay Rights
Does Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds support gay rights? His top campaign advisers were asked the question in a conference call with reporters today, in reference to a quote a Deeds' spokesman gave to the Staunton Daily News Leader during his 1999 campaign for the House of Delegates:
"Mr. Deeds does not support gay rights," spokesman Brian Worthy told the paper, in pretty clear language.
The issue, of course, is whether Deeds once held a more conservative position on gay rights than he now advertises to the progressive Democrats he is trying to energize. Deeds has already acknowledged shifting positions on the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which he voted to put on the ballot but then campaigned against. Through the Democratic primary campaign, he would often refer to himself as "a work in progress" on the issue.
At the time of the Worthy comment, Deeds was being attacked by his Republican opponent for voting against a 1994 vote on a budget amendment that would have forbidden state colleges and universities from extending benefits, including health insurance, library cards or sporting game tickets, to unmarried couples, including same-sex partners.
Worthy told the Staunton paper that the 1994 vote "was a meaningless vote," an "unrelated addition the budget." Deeds said in a 1999 campaign ad that he did not support discrimination but also did not support "special rights" for gay people. He said he had never voted to extend medical insurance or any other state benefit to gay partners.
Deeds aides today insisted that Deeds has been consistent in opposing discrimination against gays, noting the 1994 vote, as well as votes for bills in 2006, 2007, 2008 to allow localities to extend health benefits to partners of gay employees.
"Creigh has voted consistently throughout his career against discrimination," said senior adviser Mo Elleithee.
Does he now support extending health benefits to gay state employees? Aides said they did not know but would find out, and we'll let you know what we hear.
The advisers spent the bulk of their call blasting comments by Republican Bob McDonnell on Mark Plotkin's show on WTOP this morning indicating that he voted against a 2001 resolution to establish a day dedicated to promoting equal pay for men and women because it was a "ceremonial resolution" that lacked substance.
They noted in that in the weeks after equal pay resolution vote, he voted for resolutions honoring the Future Farmers of America, the YMCA movement and urging the spaying and neutering of companion pets. Elleithee said McDonnell's explanation for voting against the resolution "rings hollow."
UPDATED: Elleithee says Deeds believe state employees should be allowed to put gay partners on their state health insurance plans, though he said Deeds is not certain it would currently be allowed given the language of the state's constitutional amendment on gay marriage.
September 11, 2009; 1:54 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman
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