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A conservative Christian repulsed by Virginia's same-sex election rejection

A conservative Christian repulsed by Virginia's same-sex election rejection
© Greg Nash

As a conservative and a Christian, I was shocked and truly saddened when I read one of the reasons that a first-term Republican congressman in Virginia reportedly lost his party’s convention election vote last weekend.

It is important to keep in mind that Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanCheney, top GOP lawmakers ask Trump campaign for proof of election fraud Trump's cyber firing stirs outrage Democrat concedes in competitive Virginia race MORE (R-Va.) is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and won the endorsements of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. And yet, he still lost resoundingly to his Republican primary opponent. Why?

According to news reports, he lost in some large measure because he officiated a same-sex wedding of two male campaign aides, causing “social conservatives” in his district to turn against him. Bob Good, a former athletics official at Liberty University, defeated Riggleman in the primary. 

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As a conservative and a Christian, I have always believed that gay rights are a human right. We are all God’s children, born with the same rights.      

Well over a decade ago, a family member of mine came out. When she did, I told her how proud I was that she would speak out, and promised that if she ever chose to marry, I would be honored to stand with her during the ceremony.

Similarly, almost a decade ago, I publicly came to the defense of Chaz Bono, then appearing on “Dancing With the Stars,” when a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor criticized him, writing in an opinion piece:

“I advise parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears. The last thing vulnerable children and adolescents need, as they wrestle with the normal process of establishing their identities, is to watch a captive crowd in a studio audience applaud on cue for someone whose search for an identity culminated with the removal of her breasts, the injection of steroids. … Chaz Bono should not be applauded for asserting she is a man any more than a woman who believes she will be happier without arms, has them removed.”

After I spoke up, I heard from quite a few conservatives. Some from the religious right attacked me with vile words and warned that I would “burn in hell.” Okay, I am willing to take my chances on that; the topic of human rights is too important for me not to take a stand.

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And attacks such as the one on Chaz Bono still repulse and disgust me. When I listened to Chaz Bono speak, he came across as thoughtful, articulate and kind, someone who wanted only happiness for himself and others. In the public eye, he made a difficult, courageous decision and today leads by example.

Now, we have a conservative Republican congressman who apparently will leave office in part because he married two people of the same sex. To those who would penalize him for his action, I ask serious questions: Do you truly believe we are all God’s children? Do you believe that God is infallible? If so, do you also believe that God has a purpose and a plan for us all? 

Surely, the social conservatives angered by the congressman’s choice to officiate a gay wedding are not suggesting that God makes mistakes.

In these difficult times, people need to pause their giving of morality-purity tests and take a look at what’s happening in our country and the world beyond. Millions of people are experiencing fear, pain and suffering as we continue to weather a global pandemic, and as we witness the horrific deaths of black Americans such as Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks. The unrest and uncertainty in U.S. cities that have followed their deaths — and many others — should give us an idea of true human suffering that occurs in America and around the world. 

Why would God want anyone to turn human against human at a time like this — or ever?  

Douglas MacKinnon was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. He is the author of “The Dawn of a Nazi Moon: Book One.”