- (Photo: Reuters/Mike Theiler)
Virginia's Democratic Party has elected a new chairman despite initial opposition from gay rights activists over his lack of support for state recognition of same-sex marriages.
Dwight Jones, mayor of Richmond and a Baptist preacher, was recently elected to the position of party chair by a majority of the DPVA's State Central Committee, which has 300 members.
In a statement released after the results, Mayor Jones said that he looked forward to the position, as he has been a "Democrat my whole life."
"I have seen the party grow to what it is today, a party that fights for issues important to all Virginians, issues like access to affordable health care, making sure women receive equal pay for equal work, and fighting to ensure all Virginians are treated equally across the Commonwealth," said Jones.
"I look forward to the next chapter at the Democratic Party of Virginia and I'm excited to work together with Democrats across the Commonwealth to continue building a strong, sustainable party that will keep Virginia blue for years to come."
Jones faced opposition from groups like the LGBT Democrats of Virginia over his lack of support for same sex marriage. However LGBT Democrats eventually dropped their opposition to Jones' nomination due to him not being avidly opposed to gay marriage, reported the Washington Blade.
"He's just not in a place where he feels he can support it," said McDonald to the Blade, adding that "As chair, [he said] I want to help you achieve your goals."
Earlier this year, DPVA chair Charniele Herring stepped down in order to run for a vacated U.S. House of Representatives seat.
While Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats supported Jones for the position, others, including the LGBT Caucus of the state Democratic Party, initially opposed Jones.
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Joel McDonald, vice chair for Technology & Communications with LGBT Democrats of Virginia, explained that they opposed Jones' nomination due to his "opposition to marriage equality."
"Our position always has been, and continues to be, that Governor McAuliffe pick a pro-marriage equality candidate to support as the next chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia," said McDonald.
McDonald also told CP that while his organization does "applaud Mayor Jones for progress Richmond has made during his tenure" they nevertheless believe "selective equality is still discrimination."
The LGBT Democrats of Virginia circulated a petition in opposition to Jones' nomination, which had the backing of many Democratic politicians in Northern Virginia, a stronghold for the party in the Commonwealth.
Gov. McAuliffe's spokesman Brian Coy came to the defense of Jones, stating that McAuliffe "fully supports his good friend Mayor Dwight Jones."
"Mayor Jones has spent his life fighting for civil rights and for equal treatment for all Virginians under the law," stated Coy.