In an attempt to reach out to LGBT groups in Virginia, Governor Youngkin hosted a series of Pride month events, angering several more liberal LGBTQ groups.
According to Fox News, Youngkin hosted a private Pride reception at the state Capitol in Richmond, in an attempt to extend an olive branch to the groups. All except one member of the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board boycotted the event, while the Washington Post reported that the group of openly gay, lesbian and transgender state legislators were not invited.
The one member of LGBTQ+ Advisory Board who chose to attend, Michael Berlucchi, a Republican city councilman from Virginia Beach, told WRC-TV of Youngkin’s reception that, “this demonstration of outreach, of genuine communication is reflective of why he was elected.”
“The Governor is committed to leading on behalf of all Virginians and events like this help strengthen our communities and the spirit of Virginia,” Youngkin’s spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement, nodding to his platform to be the state’s unifier on divisive issues.
“I accepted his invitation because I perceived it to be a good-faith, honest attempt to engage all Virginians,” Berlucchi separately told the Post of the event attended by about 50 people. “There’s obviously a gap there… My attendance does not convey a total endorsement of the governor’s policies. Of course, we have more work to do, and that’s why dialogue and learning are essential.”
Last week, Youngkin also traveled to Virginia Beach to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ group.
Meanwhile, more liberal LGBTQ groups in Virginia issued press releases announcing that they would not attend the Pride month reception at the Virginia Capitol. James Millner, director of Virginia Pride, said he appreciated the invitation but would decline because, “it is premature for this administration to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality when it has yet to take any meaningful steps to advance it.”
“The Democrat Party and the people on the left, the left-leaning organizations, they all lambaste Republicans for not embracing the gay community. And then when one does, they lambaste, and they lose their minds,” Casey Flores, president of the group’s new Richmond chapter, told WRC-TV.