Carry Me Back

Virginia’s new Republican leadership apparently longs for the days of yore, when gays knew their place—the closet. But this month, they’re longing for the days when their discriminatory proclivities were not so well known. Just days after he delivered the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on everything but sexual orientation, a departure from his two Democratic predecessors. Then his attorney general sent a letter to the state’s public universities advising that “the law and public policy” of Virginia “prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification, as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy….” The moves garnered an enormous amount of publicity nationwide and protests locally and McDonnell suddenly issued another piece of paper—an all new creation he’s calling an “Executive Directive,” and one which has no force of law. The directive states that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated and declares that “Discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.” The Human Rights Campaign issued a press statement saying that, while the directive is a “positive step,” state employees “remain vulnerable without an inclusive executive order or law passed by the legislature.”

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