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Va. college leaders weigh in on discrimination

After Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell issued a directive reaffirming that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not allowed in the state workforce, college leaders lost no time clearing the air on their own campuses.

For anyone who has been off-planet, Virginia's attorney general stirred things up on the state's public college campuses by advising the collegiate community last week that they did not have a right to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

College students mobilized across the state. The protest would have reached a much higher pitch had most of the colleges not been on spring break, a bit of timing that some students contend was intentional on the part of AG Ken Cuccinelli II.

McDonnell's statement Wednesday seemed tailored to restore the peace. It also seems to have made him something of a hero to the academy.

University of Virginia President John Casteen wrote:

"Impasses of the kind that the Governor's Executive Directive resolves occur from time to time. They are not commonplace, but of course neither is the combination of wisdom and bravery embedded in the Governor's directive. . . This directive's eloquence and clarity set it apart from many policy statements that come from all sorts of sources. Perhaps needless to say, I am personally grateful to the Governor for it. This had become an uncommonly troubling issue, one that cuts to the core of our common claims to the most fundamental kinds of personal security under the rule of law. Discussion will undoubtedly continue, as it should in a free society that thrives on open discourse. But as rightly alarmed as many of us and I myself were by last week's Attorney General's letter, I was struck through the week by the wisdom and dignity of the discussion that occurred. Let us hope that the subsequent discussion will rise to the level of the model struck in the directive."

William & Mary president Taylor Reveley didn't wait for the governor, and sorted things out at his own institution with a letter issued Tuesday. He wrote:

"For now, let's be clear that William & Mary neither discriminates against people nor tolerates discrimination on our campus. Those of us at W&M insist that members of our campus community be people of integrity who have both the capacity to meet their responsibilities to the university and the willingness to engage others with civility and respect. We do not insist, however, that members of our community possess any other particular characteristics, whether denominated in race, religion, nationality, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other of the myriad personal characteristics that differentiate human beings. We certainly do not discriminate against people on such grounds, or tolerate discrimination against them. This is the way we live our lives together at William & Mary, because we believe this is the way we should live our lives together. This is not going to change."

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By Daniel de Vise  |  March 11, 2010; 2:56 PM ET
Categories:  Administration , Labor , Public policy , Publics  | Tags: U-Va., William & Mary, discrimination  
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what the govenor is saying is "treat everyone the same"...
nothing wrong with that...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 12, 2010 5:26 AM | Report abuse

covering his butt.

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Posted by: pizzz | March 12, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

True enough that McDonnell is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand he needs to quell this potentially very embarrassing backlash from the colleges, and on the other hand he can't afford to alienate his gay-hating backers.

Yes, the directive is wishy-washy and doesn't have the force of law. However, the college and university directors have clearly seized upon McDonnell's statement as permission to ignore Cuccinelli's demand for anti-gay discrimintion in Virgina schools.

And this, after all, is all they really wanted. They have no interest in discriminating against non-straights. Doing so would hurt them in countless ways and they know it.

As long as neither Cuccinelli nor McDonnell bring this up again, there's a good chance this particular battle is over. Cuccinelli lost.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | March 12, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Non verbal (eyes, gestures, etc.) tell a lot about like Ken C are usually married, anti-gay, and hiding their own attraction to men...poor attorney general. he lost

Posted by: fairness3 | March 12, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Non verbal (eyes, gestures, etc.) tell a lot about like Ken C are usually married, anti-gay, and hiding their own attraction to men...poor attorney general. he lost

Posted by: fairness3 | March 12, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Now let me get this right: the Governor rescinds an executive order that, with the force of law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Then he issues a "directive" that says you shouldn't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation because such discrimination violates the federal Constitution's equal protection clause. Unfortunately, the directive has no force of law, so if someone is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, he or she cannot go to the state government asking for remedy, but must sue in federal court, at one's own expense, and hope that the federal judiciary will agree with the Governor's interpretation of the equal protection clause. Doesn't sound like equal rights to me.

Posted by: JayJonson | March 12, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Those 18-20 are also adults. After the worst state attorney general issued an opinion to tell universities and colleges that they must repeal policies which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, McDonnell has done a good thing by issuing a directive which confrims that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in state jobs. The Virginia legislature must pass a bill which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all jobs.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | March 12, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

And exactly what was the endgame of all this anti-gay hogwash by KC? An attempt by KC to scare gays away from our state? It certainly seems like the gov and AG are not on the same page. I think the gov is a bit embarrassed. I do know this. While KC was a state senator in my district he did not hide his dislike for the academy, which he repeatedly termed as a bastion of "liberal ivory tower immoral malcontents." This sort of thing will persist with him. We just need to hold our noses for 4 years until he leaves the capital, unless we decide to elect him gov (heaven forbid).

Posted by: citizen4truth1 | March 14, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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