At Sunday’s Democratic gubernatorial debate, state Senator Creigh Deeds, former Delegate Brian Moran, and former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe were asked their views on marriage equality, and what steps they would take to repeal the discriminatory Marshall/Newman amendment if elected governor.

Gotta give state Senator Creigh Deeds props for breaking the ice after the question from NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: "We’re not talking about teacher pay anymore?"    

Then Andrea focuses her question: "In 2006, here in Virginia, there was a Constitutional amendment banning not only gay marriage but civil unions as well, despite the opposition of both Governors Warner and Tim Kaine.  Where would you stand on an issue that is clearly becoming an issue for governors around the country?" 

Deeds continues: "I’m not sure it’s a major issue for governors around the country, but it is a major issue.  Um.  In the fall of 2006 I was proud to stand with Governors Kaine and  Warner, with Senator Webb and with lots of other people to speak out against the marriage amendment.  Everybody in my house voted against the marriage amendment.  I voted in 2005 and 2006 to give people the opportunity to vote on the ballot initiative in particular.  But it’s clearly, in my view, not correct policy, it’s not correct — frankly, Andrea, this is an issue like a lot of people, in particular people who live out in the country, I grew up in a pretty Fundamentalist background, I grew up in a very literalist society, but like most people I am a work in progress, I change a little bit every day.  Some days I get a little bit better, some days I get a little bit worse.  I hope I get a little bit better every day.  And I have come to believe that marriage is something that the state really should not be involved in in the first place.  [Applause]  Whether there will be state initiatives in Virginia that will pass the Legislature that will reverse what happened in 2006, I don’t know.  But I voted against it on the ballot in 2006 and I don’t think it’s right today."

 Andrea Mitchell: "Delegate Moran, your position on this?"

 Former Delegate Brian Moran: "Yeah, this is a difference that Creigh and I have — it’s a very big difference.  Equality to me is one of the reasons I am a Democrat.  I believe that everyone should start at the same starting gate.  Uh.  Treating our gay and lesbian Virginians equally is important to me.   I think it’s a Democratic value. [Applause]  I am the only one up here who stood on the floor of the House of Delegates and publicly condemned the marriage amendment — the Marshall/Newman amendment.  Let’s not even call it marriage; it’s the Marshall/Newman amendment.  I stood on the floor of the House of Delegates and condemned it at that time.  I campaigned against it, voted against it.  I’m the only one up here who did that.  You know,  the rights of the minority are protected in our Constitution.  That’s why we have a Constitution.  The rights of the majority — they are dictated by elections every year.  We are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution protects the minority, whether it be religious rights, the right to assemble, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to vote.  To put discriminatory language in our Constitution, to say "NO" to civil unions, to say "NO" to gay marriage, to say "NO" to contracts between same-sex individuals, is absolutely wrong [Applause over Moran] As governor, I will fight to repeal the Marshall/Newman amendment." [Applause and cheers]

Andrea Mitchell: "Mr McAuliffe, I know that back  in 2004 you were very critical of President Bush for a federal ban.  What is your position now?"

Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe:  "Yeah, I was critical because I believe the Republicans tried to use this as a divisive wedge issue.  They are going to try to do it in the fall campaign.  In order to change it here, as you know, it has to pass two sessions of the legislature with an election in between.  That’s a hard thing to try to get done.  Let’s deal with the reality of what we have to do.  I have always been for contractual rights for all individuals, we should not have any discrimination against anybody.  I’ve said that from when I was chairman of the party in all the things that I have fought for. I believe as it relates to gay marriage, it’s a religious issue.  We ought to leave it as a religious issue.  But to think that I can actually change it, to go and try to do a Constitutional amendment and what we need to do   — that’s not gonna happen.   Because as I say,  you have to have two votes of the General Assembly with an intervening election.  What do the citizens of Virginia want their governor fighting on?  They need jobs."

So there you have it.  

Shorter Deeds: I’m against the amendment, and I’m evolving.  

Shorter Moran: I will fight to repeal discrimination from the Constitution.  

Shorter McAuliffe: It should remain a religious issue and I can’t do anything about it anyway.  Oh, and jobs.

Good luck to Virginians sorting this out.  I thought it was exciting to hear the applause for equality and against discrimination.   It’s also wonderful to hear all three candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia state clearly that they oppose discrimination.

{transcription and any errors therein are mine alone}