Metro Weekly

Virginia county GOP censures Rep. Denver Riggleman for officiating gay wedding

Outgoing Republican congressman says he's weighing a bid for governor as an independent

Denver Riggleman – Photo: U.S. Congress.

A Republican county committee in Virginia has unanimously passed a resolution censuring U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, claiming he betrayed the party’s values by officiating a gay wedding.

In the censure resolution, posted to the Appomattox County Republican Committee Facebook page, the party accused Riggleman of “betraying and disregarding the concerns of many conservative and Christian voters” in the district by participating in the same-sex wedding ceremony and claiming that same-sex marriage “goes against the values and principles of the Republican Party.”

Riggleman, a libertarian-leaning conservative, officiated the July 2019 wedding of Alex Pisciarino and Anthony “Rek” LeCounte, two loyal campaign volunteers who helped him first get elected in 2018. He defended his participation in the wedding, saying that the Republican Party is supposed to value individual liberty and freedom.

The censure resolution also criticizes Riggleman for considering the possibility of voting for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden when asked for whom he was voting during a CNN appearance in October, and slammed Riggleman for not endorsing conspiracy theories that Biden’s eventual win over President Donald Trump was fueled by voter fraud.

“Now may it be resolved that the Appomattox County Republican Committee censure Denver Riggleman for his betrayal to voters in the 5th District who elected him into office in the first place, for betraying the very morals, principals, and values of the Republican Party, for his petty, immoral, and ludicrous behavior before and after the 5th Congressional District Republican Convention, and for his open consideration to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden instead of President Donald J. Trump,” the resolution reads.

In June, Riggleman was defeated by Republican Bob Good for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat during a June convention — which is much smaller and more exclusive than a primary — despite being endorsed for re-election by President Trump. Good had based much of his primary challenge on the idea that Riggleman’s views were incompatible with the beliefs held by most Republican voters.

Following his defeat, Riggleman and allies raised questions about voter irregularities in the “drive-through convention,” alleging that several non-registered voters in the county where Good resides had illegally cast ballots.

The Cumberland County Republican Committee previously attempted to censure Riggleman last year for his actions, pointing to the party’s official platform opposing same-sex marriage and declaring one-man, one-woman marriages to be “the foundation for a free society.”

The motion ultimately failed, but members of the committee subsequently passed a motion of “no confidence” in him.

See also: West Virginia Republican who resigned over anti-gay comments has been re-elected

Riggleman, who no longer says he affiliates with either major party, is weighing a bid for Virginia governor as an independent in 2021.

But he criticized the GOP for choosing to hold a convention in lieu of a primary, noting that the more extreme candidate who is less acceptable to a wider swath of voters is likely to emerge from the convention as the party’s nominee. 

“You know how I feel about conventions and the state party chose a convention for the gubernatorial run,” Riggleman told Richmond-area ABC affiliate WRIC. “And, you know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. And, you know, after 12 years of losing badly, they decided to double down on losing. The convention candidate who comes out can’t beat whoever the Democrats pick in a primary.”

He also argued that Republicans who ascribe to a more populist, socially inflexible strain of Republicanism are distorting the values for which the GOP is supposed to stand.

“You’re not the party of liberty or morals. You’re the party of authoritarianism. That’s what you are,” Riggleman said. “And by the way, you really can’t argue with me on the way that I vote. This isn’t Republican, right? This is some kind of, I would say, offshoot of the party. It’s almost like a redefined nativist party that’s come out of Virginia…. Maybe, maybe you shouldn’t care how other people live. That’s not the Republican way. We do not want a party that’s just small enough to fit in the bedroom.”

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