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Protesters greet Cuccinelli at GMU speech

About 50 students and alumni associated with campus gay rights groups are protesting an appearance by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at George Mason University's Law School in Arlington this evening.

The group organized the protest in response to a letter Cuccinelli sent to every public college and university in the state, asserting that schools should not have adopted nondiscrimination policies that protect gays without authority from the General Assembly.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sought to tamp down controversy over the letter with a non-binding executive directive prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the state workforce.

But the students said they would continue to express displeasure with Cuccinelli over the letter. They held signs that read, "Cuccinelli: Bad for Virginia" and "Virginia Is For All Lovers."

Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who is gay, spoke briefly to the group, calling Cuccinelli "out of touch with the realities of the 21st century."

UPDATED 6:55 p.m.: Students who sat through Cuccinelli's hour-long lecture, which was open only to George Mason students and faculty with a university ID card, said the conservative attorney general first addressed the debate over his advice letter to Virginia's colleges and universities, saying that it was his belief that the public institutions were limited in how far they could go to grant protections to groups of people beyond what is allowed by the General Assembly.

He also stressed, students said, that his letter was not legally binding and that his office was beholden to what state legislators decided. Cuccinelli also answered several questions on the subject "at length," and said he did not promote workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, students said.

"He prides himself on upholding the Constitution. That's the platform he was elected on," said Adina Horvath, 34, of Fairfax, a law student at George Mason.

A little after 6 p.m., when the class ended, Cuccinelli was heckled by a young female protester who yelled, "Go home," as he entered administrative offices on the second floor of John T. Hazel Jr. Hall. Most of those at the afternoon gay rights rally quickly dispersed after the outburst; Cuccinelli, who is a 1995 alumnus of the law school, appeared unfazed.

--Derek Kravitz

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 23, 2010; 7:07 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Ken Cuccinelli  
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Comments

I seem to not be able to find any information about the protests led by Del. Barbara Comstock of the president's healthcare speech at GMU.

I also can't find anything written over the weekend about protests all over the DC area, including by thousands of Virginians, over healthcare.

Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Can you please show me where they are on this blog?

Thanks, J.R. from http://bearingdrift.com

Posted by: jrhoeft | March 23, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

GMU has over 30,000 students -- fewer than 50 showed up for this protest, and they didn't even fill the Patriot Center for Obama. Doesn't sound like the Democrats are doing very well over there.

Posted by: Yankeesfan1 | March 23, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Cuccinelli is a bad state attorney general. Every university and college in Virginia must not repeal their policy which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or both. The young woman protesting Cuccinelli did good by heckling at Cuccinelli. Universities make their own rules so the General Assembly isn't required to make rules for universities.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | March 23, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

@Yankeesfan1

The protest was at the law school which has 717 students. The law school is in Arlington and the main campus is in Fairfax. Also law students are busy.

Posted by: johnz21 | March 23, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I stand corrected, johnz. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to post. So fewer than 50 out of 717. And nearly 2000 empty seats at the Patriot Center for the President (by GMU's own reporting).

Posted by: Yankeesfan1 | March 23, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

@LibertyForAll:

Before commenting, you should probably know the law. The Virginia Human Rights Act does not contain the words "sexual orientation" and, therefore, cannot be changed by anyone other than our legislature.

It is the legislature who has failed to add the words "sexual orientation", so it is towards them you should express your displeasure.

Cuccinelli is doing what far too many across Virginia have forgotten - conveying Virginia law.

Bottom-line: You can't repeal what already doesn't exist.

Posted by: jrhoeft | March 24, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Will the Post be covering this?
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/Virginias-Health-Care-Queen-88909892.html

But while [Cuccinelli]'s been busy talking about how awful it is for the government to take care of its uninsured citizens, it turns out he's been using the government to take care of the health of him, his wife and their seven children -- and he's been doing it for years.

Before becoming attorney general, "The Cooch" served for almost eight years as a State Senator. Legislators are not usually eligible for state health insurance, but there is a provision for them to buy into state health care at the cost of full-time or virtually full-time (32 hours +) state employees, according to NotLarrySabato.

So when given the "public option" to insure his family through the state health insurance program, The Cooch chose to do so instead of insuring his family through his law firm. Why would he do this? The General Assembly program allows members to enroll their families for $105 per month -- or $1,260 per year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, these benefits would cost about $13,375 for a family policy on the open market.

In other words, The Cooch saved about $100,000 over his eight years in the Virginia Senate by enrolling in the voluntary state health insurance program -- which he wouldn't even be eligible for with his work hours if the General Assembly hadn't carved out an exception for itself!

Forget the "welfare queens" of the 1990's. Now we've got the "health care queens" -- led by none other than Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Posted by: valandsend | March 24, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

valandsend, thanks for bringing this to our attention:

"The General Assembly program allows members to enroll their families for $105 per month -- or $1,260 per year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, these benefits would cost about $13,375 for a family policy on the open market."

That special carve-out needs to be repealed so our politicians take it on the chin like the rest of the private sector. Then maybe we'll see some actual thought put into their legislation.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 24, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

If you haven't filled out the 2010 Census and you live in Virigina, I would encourage you to not do it. Doing so only increases Virginia's right to Congressional Representation and government funding. Since the state consistently refuses to protect it's gay and lesbian citizens by law, you should not help Virginia get more representation or funds since it doesn't count you as even being a person in the state let alone care about your rights or dignity.

Posted by: lnm3921@aol.com | March 24, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

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