June 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Equality Virginia PAC endorses Democratic statewide candidates
Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Equality Virginia’s political action committee on Friday announced it has endorsed the three Democrats running for statewide office in the commonwealth this November.

Equality Virginia Political Action Committee Executive Director James Parrish noted former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe, who is running for governor against current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun,) who is campaigning against state Sen. Mark Obenshein (R-Harrisonburg) for attorney general, have “shown public support for LGBT issues.”

McAuliffe in February publicly backed same-sex marriage. Northam, who will square off against E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant gubernatorial race, and Herring also support nuptials for gays and lesbians.

All three Democratic statewide candidates also back a proposed ban on discrimination against LGBT state employees that a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee killed earlier this year.

“Virginians have a very clear choice this November to show their support for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” Parrish said.

Equality Virginia and other LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly criticized the GOP ticket for their opposition to same-sex marriage and other gay-specific issues.

Cuccinelli in March filed an ultimately unsuccessful challenge to a three-judge panel’s ruling that overturned the commonwealth’s sodomy law. He also spoke at an anti-gay marriage event at a Manassas church last fall to which the Washington Blade was denied access.

Jackson, who founded Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, has previously compared gay men to pedophiles and described them as “very sick people.”

Obenshein sponsored a measure that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed in March that bans public universities from denying recognition and funding to student groups that discriminate in their membership based on sexual orientation and other categories that federal law does not protect. He also opposed the bill that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees.

“In this election, the GOP’s ticket has made their position obvious on LGBT issues and the media has brought it to the forefront of the campaign,” Parrish said. “Our Democratic candidates for statewide office each have platforms that include working towards our fundamental human rights – not against them.”

Obenshein sought to distance himself from Jackson’s anti-gay statements – and specifically the suggestion that gay men are perverts – during an interview on News Talk with Bruce DePuyt on Channel 8 earlier on Friday.

“That statement is one I clearly don’t agree with,” Obenshein said.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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