I'll stipulate that, for a politician, navigating certain issues can be challenging, and gay marriage is one of those issues.
I don't think it is a difficult moral or ethical issue -- laws banning gay marriage are a form of discrimination and bigotry, pure and simple. But the fact is that many well-meaning and decent people feel differently for a variety of reasons I need not go into here, and therein lies the minefield for politicians. Often, they can be out in front of their constituents on social issues, but not quite ready to challenge the attitudes of their constituents with their votes.
A Progressive, populist Democrat representing wide swaths of rural Virginia, this navigation has been as tough for Creigh as for any politician in the state. His votes in favor of putting the Marshall-Newmann amendment on the ballot in 2005 and 2006, but his campaigning and voting against that very same amendment once it was placed on the ballot, encapsulates this inner conflict. He has taken his lumps over it, and come out a better, more tolerant person. I've come around to a better understanding of this issue, Creigh said during the debate at VT the other night, perhaps "more slowly that others."
Yet, bizarrely, hoping to gain political advantage, Brian Moran attacked Creigh Deeds about this issue at Wednesday night's debate, saying that notwithstanding his growth on the issue, Creigh would have to be "held accountable" for his vote on the Marshall-Newmann amendment. Creigh responded by intimating that Brian's voting record on gay marriage may not be so pristine, either.
Then tonight, Rosalind Helderman at the Washington Post (who by the way has been doing an outstanding job since joining the Virginia desk a few weeks ago) looked back at Moran's votes on an anti-gay marriage bill from 2004. she found Moran skipped one vote on the bill (rather than voting against it), voted in favor of it one time, and voted against it one time. Jesse Ferguson, Brian Moran's communications director, lamely explained that his man's vote must have been recorded incorrectly, since it does not reflect the way he felt at the time.
Except at the time, Brian Moran explained the missed vote to a reporter at the Washington Times, saying, "Those of us that are uncomfortable with the state recognizing a gay marriage would have difficulty not supporting the resolution. But the fact is it's premature. It was a loaded resolution, and we really need to spend more time on the issues that are before us."
"Those of us that are uncomfortable with the state recognizing a gay marriage..."
As my friend Drew at DemBones says every so often, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
What was Brian Moran thinking when he attacked Creigh on this issue?
In fact, that is the wrong question to ask at this point. There are many things like this in the Moran record, such as: Moran's vote for an unconstitutional restriction on abortion in 2003, even though his website claims he has never supported an unconstitutional restriction on choice; His advocacy of clean coal technology during an interview in Southwest Virginia; His vote in favor of the Wise coal plant even as he asserted a moral superiority ground in his opposition to the Surry one; his early criticism of Terry McAuliffe's out-of-state fundraisisng, even though Moran had done the same thing; and now, a checkered record on gay marriage (not to mention the bullshit excuse tossed by his communications director to try to bamboozle a reporter) even as he has the gall to tell another candidate he will be "held accountable" for his record.
In each of these cases, Moran supporters have either attacked the messenger seeking to bring his record to light or sought to minimize the damage through excuse-making -- it was only one vote, it was a long time ago, nobody cares anymore, blah, blah, blah.
At what point are there enough of these incidents that a pattern emerges, one that tells us that Brian Moran is simply not ready and not qualified to be the Democratic Party nominee for Governor?