Gay Democrats Rise Up Against Dwight Jones 

click to enlarge Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones

Scott Elmquist/File

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones' bid to be the next Virginia Democratic Party chairman has met opposition among gay rights advocates upset that Jones doesn't support same-sex marriage.

Since news broke in recent days that Jones, a minister, is Gov. Terry McAuliffe's pick for the party's new chairman, a litany of pro-gay rights advocates have come forward to oppose what some call a planned "coronation" at a March 15 party meeting.

Several state legislators oppose Jones, as do the LGBT Democrats of Virginia.

That group has launched an online petition opposing Jones' candidacy and said it won't support him unless he "makes a strong public statement in support of legal marriage equality."

According to the group, Jones "has consistently refused to endorse marriage equality," a stance the LGBT Democrats of Virginia find particularly troubling when Virginia's Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general support it.

The Jones flap comes on the heels of a landmark decision by a federal judge in Norfolk declaring Virginia's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

Attorney General Mark Herring is fighting to overturn the ban. The ruling that dealt a blow to those state laws is being appealed.

Despite the consternation over Jones, McAuliffe's support for him appears firm.

The governor in a statement called Jones a "good friend " whom he believes is suited to "grow the party, manage the organization effectively and win elections."

"Mayor Jones has spent his life fighting for civil rights and for equal treatment for all Virginians under the law," added McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy. "He is a great Mayor for Richmond and he will be a strong leader and voice for progress as chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia."

Asked about Jones' views on gay marriage, a spokesman for him stressed the mayor's belief that "all Virginians should be treated fairly and equally under the law."

He has always made it clear that he will stand up for laws that protect constitutional rights and opposes laws that discriminate based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation," added Don Mark. "He has a record as Mayor that includes issuing the first non discrimination executive order in City Hall history, supporting the first police liaison to the LGBT community, and issuing a proclamation for Transgender Remembrance Day."

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