Excerpts From Candidates for Virginia Governor in the Democratic Debate

By Virginia Notebook
Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Tuesday, the three men seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia met for a final debate before the June 9 primary. Former state delegate Brian Moran (Alexandria), state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe debated at the event, sponsored by The Washington Post, on the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Here are excerpts of their comments:

The candidates were asked whether they support allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Virginia law allows only single people or married heterosexual couples to adopt.

Deeds: "When it comes to figuring out how a child should be raised, the emphasis should be on what's in the best interest of the child. . . . I don't have any problem at all with a child being adopted by two loving parents, male, female, same-sex, married, a traditional couple. That ought to be up to the court and ought to be up to the people who examine whether the adoption should occur. We've had that issue before us, I guess, four or five times over the last several years. I don't think there's a consensus to change that in the General Assembly among Democrats or Republicans. But I think we ought to never get past the message that the child ought to be our only consideration."

Moran: "This is an issue that has come up and is a significant difference between the three of us, which is the repeal of the Marshall-Newman amendment [barring same-sex marriage]. . . . I don't believe anyone should be discriminated against. . . . I fought against that [amendment], I voted against it, I campaigned against it and unfortunately it passed. As governor, I will not rest until we repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment. Then we can actually get into conversations with respect to that. The simple answer to your question is yes. Loving parents who want to adopt a child should have the right to do that."

McAuliffe: "I have been a longtime advocate of civil unions. I did when I was chairman of the national party. I am for full contractual rights for individuals who live here in Virginia. . . . My argument is that I want to make sure people have those contractual rights so life and death decisions, they can make themselves. . . . I'm not for discrimination at all. I got to fight hard on those issues every single day. The issues I'm going to fight on are quality-of-life issues that better people's lives. I make the argument that unless we fix this economic problem that we have here in Virginia today, a lot of the other issues we talk about are moot."

Candidates were asked whether they think oil drilling should be allowed off the coast of Virginia, now that federal law will allow it starting in 2011.

Deeds: "Energy independence is a matter of national and economic security. I don't believe any means towards achieving independence should be taken off the table until the science takes it off the table, and that includes offshore drilling. . . . If we can see royalties and protect the environment, protect fisheries, naval operations and tourism, then we ought to drill for gas."

McAuliffe: "I've been consistent from the start of this campaign. There was bipartisan legislation passed, signed by Governor Kaine, supported by Governor Kaine, that said no oil drilling and limited exploration of natural gas. I said this from the beginning. This was a bill that Brian supported. It wasn't even a close vote. I support the legislation passed in a bipartisan way and supported by the governor."

Moran: "I do oppose offshore drilling. Right now the technology does not exist to distinguish between oil and gas. We also have a $1 billion tourism industry in Virginia, well, a billion dollars in Virginia Beach. We need to be concerned about those jobs. We are asked to pay millions of dollars to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Also, the United States Navy opposes offshore drilling. Those are jobs. . . . So there are a number of reasons to oppose offshore drilling."

The candidates were given an opportunity to say how they would solve Virginia's traffic problems, given the stalemates of past years in Richmond on the issue.

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