The Virginia Christian Alliance has honored Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and five legislators who it said stood firmly for “pro-family, pro-life” legislation during this year’s General Assembly session.
It was the first time that the four-year-old organization, which has carved out a niche to the right of the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, has given awards to elected leaders. And it was another indication that the firebrand attorney general has the support of staunch conservatives over Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, his low-key rival for the Republican nomination in the 2013 governor’s race.
Cuccinelli was outspoken in his support for a “personhood” bill that would have given rights to a fertilized egg. Bolling did not take a public position on the legislation, which ultimately died.
“Cuccinelli really went to bat for the abortion issues,” said Donald Blake, president of the alliance.
The group bestowed its “Courageous Leadership Awards” on two Republican House members and two Democrats in the Senate: Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), Del. Kathy Byron (R-Bedford), Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) and Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William).
Marshall sponsored the “personhood” bill and led opposition to the appointment of a gay judge. Byron sponsored a bill that, before it was amended, would have required women to get transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions. Puckett and Colgan bucked their party to support anti-abortion legislation.
The group gave its “Freshman Legislator of the Virginia General Assembly 2012 Session Award” to Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (R-Fredericksburg), saying he had demonstrated leadership in “pro-family, pro-life legislation in his first session.”
“It was a hard year for everybody in the General Assembly,” Blake said, recalling harsh criticism of the ultrasound bill in particular. “It was divisive — ‘Republicans hate women,’ and all that stuff. It was a hard year for everybody who had to make a decision.”
The alliance decided to issue awards to recognize legislators who stood with them through those fights, Blake said.
“We may not do it for another four years,” he said. “This was a unique time.”