Congress

Two GOP groups have tried — and failed — to censure Rep. Riggleman for officiating gay wedding

Virginia freshman Republican was 'happy to officiate' the wedding, he said, earning the ire of some local party leaders

Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., officiated a same-sex marriage earlier this month, leading to some local GOP leaders in his district to attempt to censure him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Local GOP leaders in Virginia orchestrated two unsuccessful votes this week to censure Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman for officiating a same-sex wedding for two volunteer campaign staffers.

On July 14, Riggleman oversaw the marriage of two men who worked for his 2018 campaign, the Washington Post reported earlier this month.

[For the love of whiskey: How a distillery led Denver Riggleman to Congress]

“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,” Riggleman said in an interview with the Post. “That is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love. I’m happy to join two people together who obviously love each other.”

The first censure measure, proposed Monday by a member of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Republican Committee, never received an actual vote after Chairman Melvin Adams ruled the motion out of order.

Adams later released a statement promising that the committee is “absolutely committed to inclusiveness” and that the Republican party does “not discriminate against anyone,” multiple outlets reported.

Watch: Riggleman still slings whiskey at his wife’s Virginia distillery

But Adams said his committee was also “absolutely committed” to the national Republican Party platform that opposes same-sex marriage, legalized at the federal level by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Quoting the national Republican platform, Adams said his committee does “not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

That same day, the Cumberland County Republican Committee held a vote of no confidence on Riggleman for officiating the wedding.

Diana Shores, a Republican activist in Riggleman’s 5th District, led the effort to censure Riggleman for overseeing a same-sex marriage, saying the first-term congressman had “contradicted his promises to represent the district,” NBC News reported.

“Mr. Riggleman, who claims to want government out of marriage, acted as an elected official to perform a marriage,” Shores told NBC News in a statement. “Then, he made it clear in the communications that followed to the leadership of the district that he didn't care what we thought about the actions.”

“Each district committee can decide if they have further confidence in Congressman Riggleman representing their values. ... As for me, he doesn't represent mine,” Shores said.

Riggleman has not expressed much concern over the backlash from some party leaders and activists in his district.

The congressman “was happy to officiate their wedding, and he is proud of these two young people who found their life partner,” his spokesman Joe Chelak said in a statement to Roll Call.

State GOP heads in Virginia also appeared unfazed by the maneuverings of local party leaders who tried to censure Riggleman.

The governing board of the Virginia GOP “has not taken any action whatsoever on this matter,” executive director John Findlay told NBC News.

“Given that the attempt [by the 5th District Committee] had so little support, I doubt the Party will say anything on the ‘issue,’” Findlay said.

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