Rappahannock County GOP censures lawmaker who officiated gay wedding

By Davis Burroughs

September 17, 2019

The Rappahannock County Republican Party censured Rep. Denver Riggleman for “abandoning party principles,” on issues like fiscal spending and immigration. But Riggleman’s office pushed back, The Hill reports, saying the censure was issued to punish the freshman GOP lawmaker for officiating a same-sex wedding in July.

A censure is a formal statement expressing severe disapproval of someone or something. Riggleman’s censure, approved by Rappanhanock County Republicans last week, accuses the congressman of voting “for continuing resolutions for out-of-control spending that increase inflation and jeopardizes the economic stability.”

The county’s Republican Party also questioned “Riggleman’s commitment to traditional Republican Party values,” including the “strict enforcement of existing immigration and naturalization laws, “fiscal restraint,” and “curbing runaway deficit spending by Congress.”

Riggleman’s office called the accusations unwarranted and countered the censure was intended to knock the congressman for officiating a same-sex wedding earlier this summer. 

On July 14, Riggleman married two conservative Republicans who previously volunteered for his campaign.

“This censure in Rappahannock is part of an ongoing effort to punish Denver Riggleman for his recent officiation of a same-sex wedding,” Riggleman spokesman Joe Chelak told The Hill in a statement. “Denver Riggleman will continue to fight to make the Republican party a big tent party,” Chelak added.

The censure comes amid speculation that local Republican groups are working to pit a socially conservative challenger against the congressman in a primary, The Hill reports.

In addition to the accusations in the censure, Riggleman could also be vulnerable in the 2020 elections for his alleged infatuation with Bigfoot.

In 2018, Riggleman defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn by a margin of five percentage points. Cockburn is a former investigative journalist who accused the Republican of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.”

In defense, Riggleman said his work is “really is an anthropological study on all the people who believe in Bigfoot and the different Bigfoot belief systems out there.”

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