Virginia Lockjaw

An article in Slate revealed that the reporter had inadvertently stumbled upon an unusual medical condition resembling lockjaw and affecting mostly elected GOP officials in the Commonwealth. Diagnostically, the definition is a spasm of the jaw muscles causing the mouth to remain tightly closed. The technical term is trismus.                                                                     

Although the Virginia variant has not yet been named by the medical profession or researchers, VoxFairfax has determined that the source of the mini-pandemic is reasonably well known and may tentatively be called Rigglemanitis.

The Slate snoop contacted 45 GOP members of the General Assembly to secure comment on their votes regarding the pending referendum about same-sex marriage. In 2006, 57% of Virginians voted to ban same-sex marriages and amended the state’s constitution to express that view.

However, in 2014, a federal district court found the Virginia law unconstitutional, a decision upheld on appeal. Review of the lower court decisions was declined by SCOTUS. In 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges (a set of consolidated cases from several jurisdictions), the high court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. Now the General Assembly is playing catch-up by having endorsed amendment language to repeal the constitutional provision. The measure must be voted upon again before being placed on the ballot in 2022.

Twelve Republican senators and 33 GOP delegates voted against the measures, prompting the Slate sleuth to contact all 45 by phone and email to obtain individual reasons for negative votes that have no effect upon the chain of federal court decisions. Even if SCOTUS were to overturn Obergefell, any possible retroactive effect would likely be held unconstitutional.

Twelve Republican senators and 33 GOP delegates voted against the measures, prompting the Slate sleuth to contact all 45 by phone and email to obtain individual reasons for negative votes that have no effect upon the chain of federal court decisions. Even if SCOTUS were to overturn Obergefell, any possible retroactive effect would likely be held unconstitutional.

Slate’s investigator hit a wall of silence, virtually universal from the 45 legislators. Del. Nick Freitas (30th District) proved an exception and responded by email:

We have a situation where politicians are fighting over how the government should define marriage. Then there is me, who simply wants the government to get out of the business of marriage altogether. This resolution doesn’t do that, so I voted no.

How or what “government” might do to “get out of the marriage business altogether” remains a mystery. It appears that Freitas assumed that anyone reading his comment would understand his meaning.

On a grander scale, few are unaware of the origin of the phenomenon that caused the lockjaw among the 45 Republicans. In 2018, two young men volunteered to work in the congressional campaign of Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman because they admired his libertarian conservatism. Their efforts paid off, and Riggleman became a 95% Trump voter in Congress. In the summer of 2019, Riggleman officiated at the wedding of the two volunteers at their request, stating, in recognition of party orthodoxy, “I’d have been a coward if I didn’t. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, we’re the party of individual liberty.”

A 2019 Pew poll found about 45% of Republican voters supporting same-sex marriage, a number that has steadily grown over time.

But it’s also the party with a 2016 national platform that called marriage between a man and woman “the foundation for a free society.” A 2019 Pew poll found about 45% of Republican voters supporting same-sex marriage, a number that has steadily grown over time. The wedding sparked a backlash and nomination challenge from Bob Good, a biblical conservative, who, as it turned out, was successful in unseating Riggleman in the November 2020 election.

Apparently, the defeat has coursed through the politisphere of Virginia’s GOP, infecting large swaths of elected officials. Lockjaw often results from a tetanus infection caused by bacterial toxins affecting the nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, especially in the jaw and neck. A cure may, however, be on the way. Polls in 2020 and 2021 demonstrate that a bare majority of Republicans — 51% — favor same sex marriage.

Herd immunity suggested by these polls has not absolutely been demonstrated to be an antidote for Rigglemanitis, but it is promising. Harsher critics, on the other hand, view the loosening of GOP jaws as merely exacerbating cancel culture claims. Others are silent on the matter.

 

 

 



Categories: CIVIL RIGHTS, Issues, legislature, National, political parties, politics, republicans

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