Activist groups trying to salvage Ballot Question #1 are clinging to the State Board of Elections “explanation” (actually authored by active amendment proponent, Attorney General Bob McDonnell) like a slowly deflating raft.
Prominent Virginia Republicans and real conservatives like J. Harvie Wilkinson III have dispelled the notion that the amendment is a conservative project, and a press release from an impressive group of faith leaders from every part of Virginia, representing a broad range of mainline denominations, has blown apart the fallacy that there is a single religious position on marriage and other unions.
Having no arguments left, the Some Families Foundation and their supporters have now rested their entire campaign on the dishonest use of this SBE document. They are doing this across the board, beginning with Delegate Bob Marshall trying to create the impression that the SBE explanation and Attorney General advisory opinion will be binding on courts (when Marshall was asked directly during his October 26 debate with Bruce Roemmelt whether he was making a definitive statement that a court would be bound by those documents, he refused to answer). This identical talking point is appearing in letters to the editor; see for instance this offering by Loudoun quasi-professional gay-basher Pat Grigsby, in which she claims that the amendment will not disrupt legal arrangements or change existing law, adding that “(w)hen you go to the polls on November 7th, you will find that the voting information prepared by the Board of Elections, a solidly nonpartisan institution, confirms exactly what I have written.”
Now the activist group formed to campaign for the amendment has managed to annoy the State Board of Elections itself. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
In a radio ad, a newspaper column and a news release, the organization has claimed that the State Board of Elections has said that all contract rights will continue to be available to unmarried people.
Jean R. Jensen, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said the board has made no such claim.
“The State Board of Elections neither supports, opposes, nor has any authority or responsibility for the content of proposed constitutional amendments or their official explanations.”
Jensen also told the Daily Press:
“We have never had an organization take the information that we just publish and turn it into us taking some sort of position.”
In a letter last week, Jensen asked va4marriage.org to stop referencing the elections board. The group refused.
The radio ad that the SBE objects to says in part:
“According to the State Board of Elections and the Attorney General, all those rights will continue to be available to all unmarried people.”
My question is this: Since the proponents of the amendment clearly find the SBE explanation vital to their campaign, how can they at the same time claim that it’s neutral? If it’s an expression of their position on the amendment – which they clearly think it is – that must mean that it was written in violation of the requirement that it not contain statements by either proponents or opponents of the amendment.
Somebody has some ‘splainin to do.