In my desire to be an informed voter I routinely look to a candidate’s “Issues” page on their website in order to understand what it is they believe and what they value… or at least what they claim to value. But one can often find that what is openly stated on a candidate’s website can at times be as important as what is left unsaid. Over the years, I have gleaned a lot by this review.
So I found it both interesting and informative when I recently reviewed the websites for the two candidates for US Congress in Tennessee District 3 – incumbent Republican Chuck Fleischmann and his Republican challenger Weston Wamp. As a social conservative I tend to look to a candidate’s Issues page to see if their values align with mine. Here’s what I found when I compared Chuck and Weston’s positions on their websites, which they both summarized under the category of “Values.” (The info below is current as of the publishing of this article.)
Given Weston Wamp’s claim of being a strong conservative, I found it particularly puzzling to see no statement about marriage on his website, particularly given his Southern Baptist heritage. Furthermore, Weston’s father Zach Wamp, a 16 year Congressman himself, had been a proponent of marriage (as in one man plus one woman), and joined overwhelming majorities in both houses in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with Bill Clinton signing it into law in 1996. Notably though, just last year former Congressman Zach Wamp indicated that if he were in Congress today he would vote against DOMA telling the Time Free Press that “The whole issue of same-sex marriage has evolved.” He went on to clarify in a later Nooga.com article that he supported the rights of states to define marriage.
Back to Weston and his website though. Should we conclude that Weston’s omission of the issue of marriage is just an oversight? Or maybe it’s just not a focal point or a big issue? Perhaps. But given the fact that same-sex “marriage” is one of the most controversial matters of our day and every few weeks a new judicial decision across our nation ignores or tramples the will of the people in their states, it would on the surface seem quite odd that Weston would choose to remain silent on such a crucial topic — particularly in Chattanooga, the city that was identified as the number one Bible city in America in 2014.
But I’ll be the first to admit that some of my conclusions so far are speculative. I cannot read Weston’s mind, even though his silence on marriage is puzzling, if not concerning.
But that’s not where this story ends.
Despite Weston’s youthfulness at age 27, he has already run for Congress twice so his campaign has a history on the internet. So I began to wonder if there might be an instance when Weston might have expressed a view about marriage and it might be captured digitally. So I began to do some digging and I found some very interesting info.
From looking through web-cached screenshots of Weston’s 2014 website I found that in early 2014, January 4th to be precise, Weston posted at the top of his “Issues” page the following under the “Values” category:
This was displayed prominently at the top left corner of the Page so that it was the first content a visitor to the Page would see. Notice the comment about marriage, one that supports the rights of states to define marriage and clearly indicates marriage is between a man and a woman.
But we are still not at the end of the story.
Now fast forward to May 16, 2014 and the web-cached version of Weston’s website noticeably changed. The “Values” category was moved to the bottom of the Page, well out of the initial view of any visitor to the Page. But more puzzling was the change to Weston’s “Values” as you can see below:
For some reason, any reference to the “Value” of Marriage as between one man and one woman was scrubbed from Weston’s website. The first couple of sentences remained the same, for the most part.
However, the reference to marriage is gone… completely. And the edited wording that deletes marriage remains as of the writing of this article.
What is also interesting is the phrase that replaced the reference to marriage. Note the sentence, “As a millennial I take pride in bringing new perspective and new ideas to government, but values are different than other political issues. I will never abandon my core values.”
So what are Weston’s core values?
What should we make of Weston removing the previous reference to marriage as between a woman and a man? Is that particular value no longer a priority, is it no longer relevant, is it just too controversial, or perhaps it was removed for some other reason?
And why was that wording replaced with a reference to Weston being a millennial and the new perspective he will bring? It should be noted that the most recent polling of millennials reflects that 70% of them support homosexual “marriage” and continues on an upward trend away from marriage as defined by God (one man plus one woman).
As I completed this article several days ago, I could not state whether Weston 1) supported same-sex marriage, 2) whether he is opposed but sees the handwriting on the wall, or 3) whether he is simply unwilling to take a stand on a controversial issue.
So I decided to simply ask Weston about his position on marriage, i.e. one man plus one woman. Below is a complete summary of my questions and Weston’s responses concerning marriage in a Facebook message exchange on Monday, July 28:
I would not normally publish publicly a conversation that I have with another person so I intentionally waited to give Weston an opportunity to update his website, as he suggested. I waited three working days. And of course, during those 3 working days, early voting has continued… without voters having a full understanding of this issue.
While Weston addressed the issue in a one on one conversation, to date the public at large is unable to decipher from Weston’s website just where he stands on this crucial issue. So I believe several questions remain, regardless of whether Weston ultimately decides to go public on his website with his views:
One, why did Weston intentionally scrub any reference to marriage as being between one man and one woman from his Issues page?
Two, why did Weston add language about being a millennial with the deletion of the reference to marriage, particularly in light of the overwhelming view by millennials that homosexual “marriage” is acceptable? Does he lean in the direction of his peers from which he has gained significant support or does he prefer to remain silent so as to not diminish support among his young peers?
And finally, why does or did Weston’s website remain silent on an issue that is no doubt a high priority to tens of thousands of voters?
Hopefully Weston will respond in a way that the voters of the 3rd District will gain a full understanding of his position on marriage. And by doing so, there will be a public record by which to measure any future position or votes should Weston succeed in his bid to represent you and me in Washington.
Sources & Notes:
NOTE: (As I began writing this article on July 26 the “Values” category for Weston’s website was still at the bottom of his Issues Page. Amazingly though, right in the middle of my writing, Weston’s Page was updated to feature “Immigration” at the top left and “Values” was moved from the bottom of the Page (where it had been since May 16) to the top right corner. Apparently his “Values” category has risen in priority… but still no reference to marriage.)
Weston Wamp website cache: http://web.archive.org/web/20140516025207/https://www.westonwamp.com/the-issues/
Zach Wamp on DOMA: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/jul/02/0702a03-wouldnt-vote-for-doma-today-zach-wamp-says/
Zach Wamp clarifies DOMA: http://www.nooga.com/162398/zach-wamp-the-rest-of-the-story/
Weston Wamp current website: https://www.westonwamp.com/the-issues/ Chuck Fleischmann current website: http://www.chuckforcongress.com/index.cfm?p=Values