On Friday, Sept. 15, former 32nd District delegate Dick Black challenged state Sen. Mark Herring (D-33) and Del. David Poisson (D-32) to debate on the proposed marriage amendment, which will appear on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.
The marriage amendment would prohibit Virginia courts from recognizing same-sex marriages in the state, according to a press release sent out by Black, issuing the challenge. Herring voted for the amendment that would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex unions, unlike Poisson who voted against it, according to the same release.
"Del. Poisson was among 21 Democrats and one Republican who voted against the marriage amendment in the House. However, the measure passed easily by a vote of 73-22. While Sen. Herring voted in favor of the marriage amendment, he criticized its language and avoided discussing his vote in a newsletter to constituents," Black said in the press release.
AFTER HEARING about the press release for the first time Tuesday, Sept. 19, Herring chalked up the challenge to a publicity stunt by the former delegate.
"He’s trying to create controversy," he said. "I don’t know what he’s talking about."
In his last 33rd District newsletter, Herring outlined 10 bills that would appear on the Nov. 7 ballot, including the marriage amendment.
"The constituents know where I stand," he said. "I encourage voters to study the issue carefully and vote their consciences."
Herring said he is confident his voters are capable in making their own decisions on the issue.
"The voters can decide for themselves," he said, "without Dick Black and I debating about the issue."
For now, the senator said he is concentrating on transportation and growth and other constituent matters.
AFTER DEFEATING Black in last year's election to represent the 32nd District in the House of Delegates, Poisson is used to debating the former delegate on this issue. However, the freshman delegate did not receive the press release, he said.
"I have not seen it," Poisson said. "That should tell you something right there."
Even though Poisson has made his contact information public on his Web site, Black has not contacted him by phone or e-mail.
"I've never seen it so I'm not in the position to respond to it," Poisson said.
"Sen. Herring is my senator. Del. Poisson is my delegate," Black said Monday. "I served as delegate for eight years and I never refused an offer to debate the issues."