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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 03/ 7/2010

Virginia colleges: Just say 'no' to Cuccinelli

By Valerie Strauss

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the new attorney general of Virginia, had no actionable legal item that forced him to wade into the issue of sexual orientation on public college campuses.

But he was obviously itching to do it so badly that he sent Virginia's public colleges and universities a letter telling them they could no longer include gays and lesbians in anti-discriminatory employment policies. For schools that have such policies, his March 4 letter said, the language should be removed.

The proof of his “itchiness” is the clumsy way he started his letter to all presidents, rectors, and visitors (the term used for people who effectively serve as trustees of Virginia’s public colleges and universities):

Several inquiries recently have been made regarding the authority of public colleges and universities to approve inclusion of “sexual orientation,” gender identity,” “gender expression,” or like classifications in the non-discrimination policies of the respective institution.

He then explains that such language should be removed because the schools have, apparently, exceeded their legal rights in creating a protected class, something that Cuccinelli’s predecessors apparently, allowed to slip through their legal fingers.

How interesting that “several inquiries” took his time away from the things that his Web site says are his key issues:

Sex Offenders & Registry, Seniors/TRIAD, Family Internet Safety, Computer Crimes, Identity Theft, Domestic Violence, Class Action, Gangs, Methamphetamines, Victim Notification, Property Rights, Terrorism/Commonwealth Preparedness, Government & Regulatory Reform Task Force, Youth Internet Safety Task Force.

How unfortunate that Virginia’s attorney general wants to turn back the clock on civil rights for gays just at the time when the District of Columbia and Maryland are taking a step forward. The nation’s capital has just starting issuing marriage licenses for gay couples, and Maryland’s attorney general recently announced that his state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The only good news here is that after Cuccinelli’s letter was made public, the Virginia governor’s office felt the need to quickly respond to the criticism that began raining down. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, issued a statement suggesting that no action will be taken against schools that do not follow Cuccinelli’s advice, my colleage Rosalind Helderman reported.

Even if a real threat of action emerges, Virginia’s institutions of higher education have an obligation to themselves, and the country, to reject these efforts.

There are, of course, practical effects of telling gays and lesbians that they aren’t covered under anti-discriminatory policies. Try recruiting a gay professor after that. Alumni and supporters who find Cuccinelli’s effort abhorrent would likely send their contributions elsewhere.

But the main reason schools shouldn’t rescind policies that protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation is that it is just wrong.

Institutions of higher education are at their core places where America's most profound ideals--freedom of thought and speech and respect for the rights of individuals and their differences--should always be on display. That's what makes Cuccinelli's letter particularly obscene.

Virginia's schools should just say "no."

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By Valerie Strauss  | March 7, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Higher Education  | Tags:  cuccinelli letter, higher education  
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Comments

Republicans just can't help themselves. They want everyone to be forced to live with the same worldview they have without recognizing that it's too narrow for most of us. How sad that our state, which has made so much progress in recent years, may be heading backward.

Posted by: DWinFC | March 7, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

It is one thing for gays to have rights equal to that of a normal person. It is quite another for gays to have special rights, status, and considerations that are not available to a normal person.

The Attorney General is not denying gays equal rights.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | March 7, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The "anti-discriminatory employment policies" are nothing more than "affirmative action for gays" under a different name.

Posted by: spamsux1 | March 7, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hello jnrentz@aol.com,
Gay people are normal people. They should have the same rights as all Virginians have.

Posted by: AGM611 | March 7, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

OMG - up is down, black is white - does the sun rise in the West in your world jnrentz?

Think about it - does *anyone* discriminate against anybody in this country because they are straight? Does anybody get fired from their job or evicted from their apsrtment because they are straight? Yet gays do because they are gay. What we are talking here is protection from discrimination - the "right" to deserve to be treated just like anyone and everyone else, not treated "special" (and not in a good way)because one is gay.
In what kind of world is the protection from abuse and being singled out and discriminated against a "special right".

Go crawl back under your rock - this is the 21th century, not the 15th.

Posted by: hohandy1 | March 7, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"It is one thing for gays to have rights equal to that of a normal person. It is quite another for gays to have special rights, status, and considerations that are not available to a normal person. The Attorney General is not denying gays equal rights."

Get back to us with some cases of heterosexuals being fired expressly for the reason that they are heterosexual, ok?

Nobody should be surprised by Cucinnelli's actions. His views were clear. His targets were clear. I am so embarrassed that Virginia decided to elect such retrograde politicians. I believe many who voted for him have more moderate views, but they voted for him anyway. Carry me back to old narrow-minded Virginny, indeed.

Posted by: hitpoints | March 7, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

If the law already prohibits discrimination against gays, why should it make any difference if a school puts it in writing. Are the schools prohibited from reminding students and employees about the law. What would Cuccinelli's response be if the schools wrote policy prohibiting the sale of drugs on campus? Is that different?

The only difference is that Cuccinelli is a sexually repressed, bible-thumping yahoo and an embarrassment to the State of Virginia.

Posted by: st50taw | March 7, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

jnrentz: You might find it an inconvenient fact, but it is still a fact: gays and lesbians DO undergo SPECIAL DISCRIMINATION that doesn't happen to straights.

So, if you don't want these so-called special rights to be written into university policies (or state law), then get off your chair and do your part to end anti-gay special discrimination.

But of course you won't, because what you really want is to have the "special right" to discriminate against gays while denying gays the right to any protection.

Posted by: jamshark70 | March 7, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I re-read "Why Read The Answer Sheet" and I cannot see any way in which this frothing fulmination of political advocacy relates to the blogs purpose. The reason to read a blog in the Washington Post, as opposed to "Move On.Org," is because it bears some relation to reportage: brining new information or new insight to an otherwise hidden issue.

This blog entry does nothing more than advocate for gay rights. While that may be important to some, both for and against gay rights, it has nothing to do with education.

Posted by: krush01 | March 7, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people,...

Everyone not within some predetermined, absolutely egalitarian parameter as defined by the far left should be favored with special consideration.

Someone should be shown preference because they exhibit a faulty biologically-programmed sexual preference that would doom any other heterosexual species on the planet to extinction.

I realize the human species is beyond mere "survival mode".

It is interesting to see this (western) species encourage, promote and pay for otherwise unsustainable populations.

Posted by: spamsux1 | March 7, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@ crush01:
This issue has nothing to do with education? A discussion on state policy that undercuts our universities very much belongs on an education blog. You may not approve of gay rights, but at least be honest enough to admit that; your statement that this discussion doesn't belong here is entirely transparent.

Posted by: greyhound1 | March 7, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people,...

Everyone not within some predetermined, absolutely egalitarian parameter as defined by the far left should be favored with special consideration.

Someone should be shown preference because they exhibit a faulty biologically-programmed sexual preference that would doom any other heterosexual species on the planet to extinction.

I realize the human species is beyond mere "survival mode".

It is interesting to see this (western) species encourage, promote and pay for otherwise unsustainable populations.
*****************************************
Explain how putting into a written policy something already prohibited by law is "special consideration". Anything that touches Federal funding is covered, and that most assuredly covers all the state colleges and universities. Liberty U. can do whatever floats their boat - IF they don't receive Federal funding or grants.

Posted by: st50taw | March 7, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to see this (western) species encourage, promote and pay for otherwise unsustainable populations.

Posted by: spamsux
*******************************************
BTW, no one "pays" for the gay population. They work and pay taxes like everyone else. I'll give you the benefit of doubt that you do the same.

If you don't like gays, just say so, but don't trot out ridiculous arguments to justify your bigotry.

Posted by: st50taw | March 7, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Surely the main point here is LEGAL? In most issues, it is some authority which has the decision making power simply because we do not want two different authorities making conflicting decisions and then not knowing what should be done. Either schools have the authority to decide what they did or they do not and only a court can rule on that.

Ditto on whether the University of Michigan can follow a race-sensitive admission policy or whether corporate funding can be allowed to influence elections.

Of course every columnist and every poster of a comment wants to make decisions about the law himself/herself, but if we allowed that, we would end up with several hundred million legal codes, and wouldn't THAT be fun? :)

Posted by: rohitcuny | March 7, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The only difference is that Cuccinelli is a sexually repressed, bible-thumping yahoo and an embarrassment to the State of Virginia. Posted by: st50taw |
---------------------
Actually, Cuccinelli has five daughters and two sons, so my guess is that he has in fact been sexually active. Why did you say he is repressed?

Perhaps he has not been not sexually active OUTSIDE his marriage, unlike Sanford, Spitzer and (Bill) Clinton. Would that be your complaint about his sexual life? :)

Posted by: rohitcuny | March 7, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

If you don't like the law, change the law. I for one am happy that we have an AG who actually thinks laws should be followed, even when it is clear that mentioning it is unpopular enough that the former AG, now Governor won't even support the law.

Public officials are limited in what they can do, in what special recognition they can grant, to only what the legislature has allowed.

Who knows, maybe the AG did you a favor, maybe now there will be an outcry to change the law.

Posted by: charlesinva | March 7, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

To spamsux1: You are your ilk are truly ass_holes. Virginia home of the haters? But, that's what you get by allowing people to marry their cousins!

Posted by: wjfreeman1 | March 7, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

The Virginia law in question and
the demands of Attorney General
Ken Cuccinelli are simply acts
of oppression.

If there is no oppression then
why would there be a need for
a law banning protection from it?

The mere existence of of such a law
whose promotion is based upon religious
doctrine and targets a specific group
for the specific purpose of denying
possible protections is in and of itself
oppression and a specific violation of both
the 14th amendment and the owing to it’s
origins in religious doctrine a specific
violation of the “establishment of religion”
clause of the 1st amendment.

What needs protection is the constitutional
rights of all citizens, and the United states
constitution that protects your right to
worship and believe in a manner of your own
choosing also protects others from those
beliefs being implemented into law.

Posted by: drclue | March 8, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

What is overlooked is that allowing discrimination against gays also endangers straight people. Several years ago a sailor was beaten to death by his shipmates for being "gay." Their proof was that on shore leave in Italy, instead of going to a brothel with them, he and a shipmate went to see some of the great artworks of Western Civilization--the sort of thing people spend thousands of dollars to go to Italy to see. According to his shipmates, that was proof of homosexuality.

If your boss can fire a co-worker for being gay, what's to keep him from firing anyone he happens to see coming out of the opera if the boss is some yokel who thinks only "that sort" of man likes opera?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | March 8, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

If allowed, Cuccinelli and McDonnell will take Virginia back to the "good old days" when gays and other minorities knew their place. Voters--pay attention next time.

Posted by: annie7 | March 8, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@charlesinva - On the same page as you. I find it odd that no one is focusing in on the greater area of this topic. That area being the fact that the language on protected classes at state supported universities in the Commonwealth DOES NOT EXIST in the protected class legislation in the Commonwealth. Perhaps contacting your representatives to the General Assembly to have them CHANGE THE LAW would be a good place to start. The AG doesn't make the law, they enforce it. The General Assembly makes the law. Start there....

Posted by: fairtax09 | March 10, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

All this homosexual rights jazz is based on the idea that people "are born that way." But who could be crazy or dense enough to believe that? There's no evidence for it, except for the claims of people who have homosexual attractions. But since many thousands of people have, through an act of their will, cut their ties with the homosexual lifestyle and gone heterosexual, it puts the lie to the idea that they were born that way.

Posted by: yourstruly1991 | March 11, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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