October 23, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Cuccinelli to speak at anti-gay marriage rally
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade has learned Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is scheduled to speak at a rally against same-sex marriage at a Manassas church on Friday.

“He will be addressing the summit at 6 p.m. in Manassas,” said Cuccinelli’s spokesperson, Brian Gottstein, in response to questions about the upcoming gathering at Reconciliation Community Church. “Since the marriage amendment is the law in Virginia, the attorney general was asked to speak about it.”

The Manassas event is the latest of a series of rallies and other gatherings scheduled to take place across the commonwealth on Friday during what organizers have dubbed the Marriage Protection Virginia Bus Tour. Participants are scheduled to attend an early morning rally at Liberty University in Lynchburg before traveling to Richmond, where they are slated to gather at Capitol Square Grounds before eating lunch at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Afterwards, participants are expected to attend a second rally at the Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace in Fredericksburg before traveling to Manassas.

“The institution of marriage is under a barrage of attacks from certain politicians, judicial activists and citizen advocates,” said the High Impact Leadership Coalition, a group founded by Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., in an Aug. 1 press release that announced its Traditional Marriage Tour would travel to Virginia and six other states across the country. “Recent events including the president of the United States commenting that he supports gay marriage, instructing the Department of Justice not to enforce violations of the Defense of Marriage Act and a Ninth Circuit Court’s decision to strike down Proposition 8 in California, makes it necessary for us to act now.”

The group further concluded in the same press release that “the above combined actions” made “it abundantly clear that an effective campaign to counter the political, legal and citizen advocacy activities to reshape and redefine marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman is needed.”

The Manassas event will take place less than a week after Jackson, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Bishop Eugene Reeves of New Life Ministries in Woodbridge, Va., Maryland Marriage Alliance President Derek McCoy and roughly 100 others attended an anti-gay marriage gathering at a black church in Baltimore. Phillip Goudeaux of the Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif., described gays as “predators” who are “after our children” during the Oct. 21 event.

Goudeaux, Jackson and Reeves are among those scheduled to join Cuccinelli in Manassas.

“As the nation moves towards marriage equality, the Marshall-Newman Amendment prohibits recognition of gay and lesbian couples and poses legal and financial challenges,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “Cuccinelli may have ambitions to be the next governor of Virginia, but we question if he is capable of representing LGBT Virginians and if he will be a leader that works for all Virginia families.”

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) also criticized Cuccinelli for agreeing to speak at the event.

“It’s clearly political posturing to assist divisive figures like [U.S. Senate candidate] George Allen and Mitt Romney,” he told the Blade. “Ken Cuccinelli knows full well that we have an anti-gay marriage amendment that he helped put in the Virginia state constitution. And I don’t know what pretense he’s using, but it doesn’t seem relevant to the economic issues Virginians are facing this year and the recovery Virginia is experiencing under the Obama administration. It’s a diversion, it’s divisive and it’s typical of Ken Cuccinelli. Fair minded people who oppose Ken Cuccinelli and bigotry should volunteer to support the president and [U.S. Senate] candidate Tim Kaine.”

State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) expressed a similar sentiment.

“I am disappointed, but, unfortunately, not surprised that this is what the attorney general chooses to do,” he told the Blade. “It is particularly disappointing that someone who was elected to protect Virginians instead chooses to participate in a rally whose goal is to perpetuate prejudice and prohibit some Virginians from enjoying the same rights and privileges as others. That is simply unacceptable.”

A Jackson spokesperson did not return the Blade’s request for comment.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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