LGBT-equality group cautions Gov. McAuliffe about Dwight Jones

Posted at 2:39 PM, Mar 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-04 15:34:37-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The People of Faith for Equality in Virginia (POFEV) sent a letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe about the possibility of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones being named the next chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPV).

POFEV is “an interfaith movement for LGBT equality” in Virginia.

“Mayor Jones has much to recommend him as a public leader—as do many individuals whom you might consider. However, he has not appeared to many as friendly to the concerns of the LGBT community in general,” POFEV President Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline wrote in the letter to the governor. “While he has supported and issued anti-discrimination policies in the workplace, he has not been enthusiastic in his outreach to the LGBT community and he has failed to support marriage equality in particular.”

In addition to being the mayor of Richmond, Jones is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of South Richmond. When President Barack Obama declared his support for same-sex unions in 2012, Mayor Jones issued the following statement:

 “This is one issue that President Obama and I disagree on. Despite this disagreement however, I applaud the efforts and work of President Obama and his administration and I will do whatever I can to ensure he is re-elected.”

Gorsline’s letter warned Governor McAuliffe about the impact his support for Jones as  DPV  chair could have on the state.

“His [Jones] engagement and position on marriage equality would set a low bar for all elected officials in the state about the importance of marriage equality and could be interpreted as indicating that your support for equality is less deep than your public statements would indicate,” Gorsline wrote.

Gorsline suggested Jones sign the  “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” statement as a show of support for the LGBT community.

Jones could be named Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia during the group’s March 15 meeting.

“Governor McAuliffe believes the next state party chair should be a leader who will grow the party, manage the organization effectively and win elections. That is why he fully supports his good friend Mayor Dwight Jones,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy wrote in an email when asked to respond to the letter. “Mayor Jones has spent his life fighting for civil rights and for equal treatment for all Virginians under the law. 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.”

CBS 6 News also reached out to Mayor Jones for his reaction to the POFEV’s letter. We will update this story when he replies.

This is a developing story.