GOP aims to uphold gay marriage ban

Virginia’s House of Delegates is poised to vote this week on a bill allowing legislators to defend any law the governor and attorney general decide not to uphold on behalf of the state.

House Bill 706, proposed by Delegate C. Todd Gilbert, R- Shenandoah, would permit a member of the General Assembly to represent the “interests of the commonwealth” in circumstances where the constitutionality, legality or application of Virginia’s adopted laws are questioned by the governor or attorney general.

A Gilbert spokesman says the delegate proposed the bill because he was aware of Herring’s “threats” on the campaign trail.

“The attorney general’s decision to refuse to enforce a duly-adopted provision of the Virginia Constitution is frightening,” Gilbert said in a GOP address. “Unfortunately, Attorney General Herring’s decision does not come as a surprise.”

Herring said this past week he believes the commonwealth’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Herring stated in a press release he would side with the plaintiffs in the federal Bostic v. Rainey case and seek to declare Virginia’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

“Two weeks ago, I watched Mark Herring swear before God and the people of Virginia to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the commonwealth,” said Gilbert in a weekly Republican address. “It didn’t take him long to get out of that.”

Gilbert, whose website describes the delegate as a proud supporter of traditional marriage, says Herring’s decision sets a dangerous precedent and shows disregard for the oath and obligation he took to defend Virginia’s constitution.

“The attorney general does not have the authority to unilaterally make that decision for the people,” Gilbert said.

In contrast, Herring says it is time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of the law, according to a recent news release.

“Marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians,” Herring stated. “Virginians should no longer face discrimination and economic hardship based on whom they love and commit their lives to.”

Delegate Gregory D. Habeeb, R- Salem, voted this past week in support of HB706.

“The lawyer in me is stunned an attorney general and a governor would take that position,” Habeeb said. “If the attorney general won’t do his job and the governor won’t appoint somebody … someone’s got to step in and do it.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s refusal to defend the amendment is unprecedented and an abdication of his responsibilities, according to Habeeb.

Habeeb says he thinks Herring and McAuliffe’s position is completely inappropriate and in violation of their duties.

“I think it’s very ethically questionable from a lawyer standpoint,” Habeeb said, “and may rise to the level of violation of their oaths of office.”

Under the current Code of Virginia, Herring has a certain category of cases he is supposed to defend, Habeeb said. If Herring chooses, or is unable to fulfill that duty, then the governor needs to appoint someone who can, Habeeb said.

What is not clear in the current law, Habeeb said, is what happens if the attorney general recuses himself, and the governor refuses to appoint council.

“I don’t even care what the issue is,” Habeeb said. “For them to say we have a client. We are refusing to defend that client, and we don’t want anyone else to defend that client … that’s shocking as a lawyer.”

Some faith-based groups have gone as far as calling for Herring’s resignation, while other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, praise Herring’s newfound position.

“We’re pleased to welcome the attorney general and the commonwealth to the right side of history,” stated Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, in a press release. “And we want to be sure that whatever happens next will result in a quick, clear and final decision affirming the freedom to marry for our clients and for all Virginians.”

HB706 passed through the House Courts of Justice Committee this past week with amendments after a 13-7 vote in favor of the bill.
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McShin Academy expanding to St. Joseph’s Villa


Two Lakeside-area nonprofits are partnering to create what is believed to be the first recovery high school in Virginia.

The McShin Academy will be a joint effort of the McShin Foundation (a recovery community organization based at Hatcher Memorial Baptist Church in Lakeside) and St. Joseph's Villa (a 183-year-old nonprofit on Brook Road that provides a variety of services for children with special needs). > Read more.

Reynolds CC dedicates student center


Reynolds Community College recently celebrated the dedication of the Jerry and Mary Owen Student Center, named for longtime supporters of the college who have made numerous investments in it.

Jerry Owen served on the Reynolds College Board from 1984 to 1988, and he and his wife support the college’s scholarship fund and created an endowment for the Reynolds Middle College, which helps students earn a high school equivalency and transition into a degree or workforce credential program. > Read more.

Capital One sponsors ‘Coders Experience’


Capital One hosted its “Coders Experience” event in Richmond and a number of other state locations Oct. 14. The events attracted hundreds of middle school girls, who learned how to create their own mobile apps, hone problem-solving skills and gain software development knowledge. A second day of Coders Experience events will take place Oct. 21. More than 500 Capital One volunteers are participating in the 10 events. > Read more.

Hermitage band member named All-American


The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance Selection Tour will visit Hermitage H.S. Oct. 19 to recognize Truman Chancy as a 2018 U.S. Army All-American. Hermitage High School will honor Chancy before his classmates, bandmates, family and friends at the high school’s band room during band practice, and he will be presented with his honorary All-American Marching Band jacket. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: Oct. 16, 2017


This week, Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers is asking for the public to assist the Richmond Police Department in the identification of wayward artists that were using buildings as their canvas.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 14, four people were recorded on security cameras vandalizing multiple properties in the area of the 2500 blocks of West Main Street and Floyd Avenue. The suspects (pictured) were walking north on Robinson Street and spray painting the properties as they meandered along. > Read more.

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October 2017
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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will celebrate Rose Fest from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Rose Garden. Walk through winding paths of 1,800 roses and enjoy live entertainment and other activities. The Latin Ballet of Virginia will perform at 12:15 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. Rose Fest is included with Garden admission which is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors 55+, $10 for military (with ID) and $8 for children 3-12. For details, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text

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