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Did Cuccinelli ask William and Mary to overturn sexual orientation policy?

Rosalind Helderman

In a letter urging Northrop Grumman not to choose Virginia for the site of its new corporate headquarters, a Maryland state senator claims that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is trying to get universities to overturn policies barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The assertion was neither confirmed nor denied Friday by Cuccinelli's office or the College of William and Mary, the institution to which the senator, in an interview, said he was referring.

In a letter to the CEO of the company, Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) cited Cuccinelli's purported advice to colleges as one sign the state has been "turning back the clock" on gay rights since the inauguration of Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) in January. He said Maryland would be a better fit for the company, which has a national reputation for being friendly to gay employees.

"Virginia's new Attorney General is reportedly seeking to have Virginia's universities rescind their policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation," he wrote.

In an interview, Madaleno said he had heard from associates in Virginia that William and Mary had received legal advice from Cuccinelli regarding its nondiscrimination statement.

Brian Whitson, a spokesman for William and Mary, said it was university policy not to comment on any legal advice given to the public school by the attorney general's office, which formally serves as its counsel. He said he could not confirm whether the school has received any guidance from Cuccinelli on the issue and referred questions about the attorney general's position to his office.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck James Friday also would not confirm whether such a memo exists, citing attorney-client confidentiality.

James and Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein did say, however, that it has been the longstanding opinion of the attorney general's office that the authority to extend legal protections on the sexual orientation rests with the General Assembly, which has repeatedly declined to pass legislation to do so.

"There's been consistent advice from the attorney general's office for more than a decade: the General Assembly is the only authority that can determine protected classes," Gottstein said. "It is a legislative determination and Virginia universities and colleges have no authority to determine what are protected classes in Virginia."

According to Whitson, there are no plans to remove language about sexual orientation from William and Mary's existing policy. The Faculty Assembly recently asked that the policy be expanded to also include "gender identity and expression," a request the school's president is now examining.

"We're working on a way to do it in a way that relates only to William and Mary and avoids the appearance of trying to set policy beyond our campus," Whitson said. "With or without the clarification, we do not discriminate at William and Mary."

Representatives for other Virginia schools, including the University of Virginia, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University, have all said recently that they have not been sent any memos or opinions from the attorney general's office regarding their nondiscrimination policies, which each include language dealing with sexual orientation.

Equality Virginia has scheduled a news conference for Monday dealing with the Northrop issue and the General Assembly's actions on legislation dealing with extending legal protections to gay state employees.

The group will be circulating a letter from its executive director to Northrop CEO Wes Bush.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 27, 2010; 12:28 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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The anti- gays states should focus on banning re-marriage of the divorced.

Posted by: newagent99 | February 27, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

wow. rock bottom for republicans??

Posted by: FiatBooks | February 27, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Those 18-20 are also adults. Cuccinelli is a bad attorney general because he's committed the intolerant ideology of social conservatism. Universities and colleges in Virginia must not repeal policies which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Universities create their own policies, even if rules are oppressive but not the legislature so Brian Gottstein is wrong when it comes to that. Legislator Madaleno is justified to say his statement because Cuccinelli's office didn't deny the statement.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | February 27, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

It's fun to watch desperate liberals from the socialist republic of maryland and their propagandist allies at the post trying to sway a company from choosing Virginia for it's headquarters. Hey madaleno, northrop is moving to VA to escape the socialistic high taxes of California. Why would they go from the frying pan (CA) to the fire (MD)...genius? I hope MD keeps their millionaire tax. Va will gladly accept all of the MD millionaire escapees.

Posted by: kr1839 | February 27, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting that Northtop Gruman, a company who benefits from the senseless wars that cost us 80 billion per month, is trying to escape taxes? You make stuff that snuffs out innocent lives. Give me a break with the "rushing from socialism." HAHAHAHA,. You live on the teat of the tax payers you creeps.

And Kuccinelli - he's a lowlife. If this is where his priorities are, I don't know what else to say. The GOP is a massive failure because of fools like him. Anti-gay agenda is OK. War and senseless killing/spending OK..... but you try and get funding for a field trip in a VA school. HAHAHAHA.

Posted by: FiatBooks | February 27, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

What's senseless is how brain dead you liberals are for supporting socialism after so many historical demonstrations of its failure and corruption. It's sounds like you would be happier in the socialist utopia of Venezuela. I'm sure Hugo would love to have you. Just wish all of you numbskull socialists would move down there and quit destroying this great country.

Posted by: kr1839 | February 27, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

"Did Va. AG push W&M on policy?"

I hope he did. Perverts don't need protected status from the state. And Maryland is really getting desperate if they have to go underhanded the way they did. Still won't work for them but it makes for good entertainment.

Posted by: 0460 | February 28, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Republicans successfully used misinformation and fear about gay people to win votes in the Bush administration. That strategy stopped working a few years ago and was shelved for a while; we saw less anti-gay legislation in the past couple of years. Perhaps McDonnell and Cuccinelli believe the terrible economic situation creates fertile ground for bringing back the whipping boy strategy. We all know that in tough times, people look around for someone to blame--blacks, immigrants, gays... The politicians whip up anger against some "straw man" group that is "taking away your (fill in the blank--could be job, marriage, prosperity, etc.)." "Stick with us and we'll defeat those bastards" is their message. It's sick, when you think of it, and brings out the very worst in us. But, unfortunately, it's effective.

Posted by: CultureBearer | February 28, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Actually KR - I am a registered republican and a conservative. The REpubican party is an embarrassment of epic proportions. You can keep making it about "liberals" and attack individuals, but the reality is there. We are spending upwards of 80 billion per month to pay for mercenaries who make us LESS safe and waste our tax monies.

Get a grip. I've heard your neocon "Hugo Chavez" line everywhere I go to say "stop the madness with neoconservatism." You've failed. At least Hugo Chavez has a state. Even Bush/Cheney couldn't get Neocon lite McCain/Palin elected.

Posted by: FiatBooks | February 28, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Actually fiat, I just love the 'ol "i am a registered republican and conservative" who just happens to be anti-war, anti-freedom, anti-capitalism, and anti-republican. Now that's funny....a liberal/socialist claiming to be a conservative republican. You need to be true to yourself. Don't be ashamed to admit who you really are.
And what does "at least hugo chavez has a state" mean? I love how you liberals admire dictators. Again, if you like him so much, please move down there and enjoy his uptopian society.

Posted by: kr1839 | February 28, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe my tax dollars pay this guy's salary and provide him with a staff.

I'd like to thank all the idiots in VA who stayed home on election day last November. Deeds was hardly a prize, but look what you got instead.

Where is Virginia's Scott Brown? I'd gladly vote GOP if these guys would just lose the anti-gay, Bible thumping ideology.

I guess maybe when Ken and Bob turn UVA into a state funded version of Regent "University" or Liberty "University", people will get out and vote next time.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | February 28, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

As a comrade of Virginia's new Governor Robertso - eh, McDonnell -- why are people even mildly surprised at Cucci's efforts to carry voters back to Ol' Virginny?

Posted by: kinkysr | February 28, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: gitkonlyyou | February 28, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

kr1839, would you and your teabagging cohorts PLEASE go back to school and LEARN what "socialism" actually is, and stop trying to throw easily recognized (and incidentally massively ineffective) scare tactics at a population who definitely knows better?

There is not any state control happening, being proposed, or secretly planned of any industry, including health care, including finance, and including any major industry. And to assert this is happening actually just makes you look like massive buffoons. Oh, wait...

At any rate, if Northrop as a corporation values a place where the government and the society respects all people, and recognizes the value to creative work that having all people know they are valued and included as part of the fabric of the laws and culture of that state, they will choose DC or Maryland.

If they don't mind locating to a place that has been nothing but hostile to LGBT people, then they might choose VA for a variety of reasons that may have nothing to do with LGBT people.

One thing is for sure, they probably won't be making the decision based on this issue alone, so those on both sides drinking that kool-aid ought to slow down, and BREATHE....

I myself as a gay Virginian, am very likely to move to Maryland, sadly....I love the Commonwealth, and my family history goes back to the 1700s here, but I am not willing for my partner and I to remain second class citizens.

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | March 2, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The letter is available online at Richmond Times Dispatch:

Posted by: mikoglaces | March 6, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

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