Riggleman Takes Brave Stand For Marriage Equality In Officiating Gay Wedding Of Campaign Volunteers
Over the weekend, Congressman Denver Riggleman took a bold stand for equal rights and marriage equality. On Saturday, he officiated the wedding of two of his campaign volunteers, Anthony LeCounte and Alex Pisciarino.
The Washington Post reported this:
“Anthony LeCounte and Alex Pisciarino promised their guests a “fabulous gay summer wedding.” The setting was a vineyard in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The dress code, a seersucker-linen-chiffon homage to the Kentucky Derby.
And the officiant was a Republican congressman from a conservative district in the rural South.
Rep. Denver Riggleman (Va.) did the honors for LeCounte and Pisciarino on Sunday evening at King Family Vineyards in Crozet, west of Charlottesville.
“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 Monday. “And 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.”
It is reported that the couple met at a Log Cabin Republicans meeting and then soon thereafter began to volunteer for Congressman Riggleman’s campaign in 2018. According to the Post, Congressman Riggleman is the first Republican member of the U.S. Congress, in both Houses, to ever officiate a gay wedding.
In a statement to Bearing Drift, Congressman Riggleman had this to say:
“Maybe, just maybe, we can advance the cause of all Americans. I may lose votes on the fringes, but this shouldn’t even be a story in 2019. I just want to do the right thing and to serve my district and if voters don’t like it, they can vote me out. I serve in the party of Lincoln, and in the party of Lincoln we stand for equal rights. It doesn’t matter if I’m only a one-term Congressman, I will continue to do what is right.”
In a complete act of moral courage and tenacity, Congressman Riggleman did the unthinkable. A conservative Republican officiating the wedding of two of his gay volunteers would have been unheard of ten, five — heck, maybe even two years ago. For once we have a Republican Congressman who understands that marriage is a conservative principle, no matter who is getting married.
Marriage, no matter if it is a man and a woman or an LGBT couple, is a conservative institution. It is a conservative statement to say before God, friends, and family that you are so committed to someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. It’s conservative to state that you would rather put aside your selfish needs and be in a relationship with someone that you care about. It’s conservative to start a family with someone and to provide a home to deserving children who otherwise may not have a family.
I’ve told this story before and I will tell this story again. I met my wife Lauren because of our mutual best friend. That mutual best friend of ours is a conservative gay Republican. If I hadn’t ever met my best friend, I wouldn’t have the best thing to ever happen to me in my life.
Lauren and I both agree that our marriage as a heterosexual couple is no different than that of an LGBT couple. That those equal rights under the law as stated by the United States Constitution and stated by the United States Supreme Court are equal to everyone. That everyone has the right in this country to pursue happiness with the ones they love. It doesn’t matter your zip code or some bigoted law passed by the General Assembly a decade ago, the United States Supreme Court, mind you by one vote, declared with a loud voice that those unalienable rights included the right to love who you love.
A news flash to all you Republicans who are currently sharpening your pitchforks, there are LGBT Republicans and Republican LGBT allies all across the Commonwealth of Virginia. They are leaders in their community and more importantly, they are leaders in our party. Many of them are more conservative than your average Republican voter. Most of my conservative LGBT friends are gun owners, they attend church, and about 99.999998 percent of them voted for President Trump. This shouldn’t be news to anyone in the conservative movement.
I think about how far we have come in the fight for marriage equality and I think about how far we have to go. There are still states in the U.S. where you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity. There are states where you can be denied housing because of your LGBT status. There are states where it can be made difficult to adopt children. Hell, the Marshall-Newman amendment is still the law of the Commonwealth (come on General Assembly of Virginia, you can fix this quickly!). Thankfully the Supreme Court trumps Marshall-Newman, but nevertheless, we still have a lot of work to do.
I want to applaud Congressman Riggleman of his brave and courageous stand for the LGBT community and all of the allies like myself who wish to see our friends and loved one’s rights recognized. He didn’t have to do this. It may even cause him to have a primary challenger. He will lose votes because of this.
But he doesn’t care. Because Denver Riggleman is a man of bold courage. Congressman Riggleman did something that was unpopular amongst his likeliest supporters to support the love of his friends. That, my friends, is what we call courage.
We should stand from the rooftops and shout that in Virginia, we finally have a Congressman who is more concerned about the equal rights of all than the select rights of a few. We should praise his efforts to recognize the stance of a Congressman who cares more about his friends and loved ones than winning the next primary. His authenticity, his tenacity, and his boldness should be praised from the highest of the rooftops.
Congressman Riggleman, I am so proud to say that you represent the Commonwealth of Virginia. And to Alex and Anthony, congratulations on your big day!