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Cuccinelli position on university policies on gays draws praise, criticism

Rosalind Helderman

The conservative Family Foundation sent a letter to its supporters Monday supporting the letter written by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli Thursday to public colleges and universities, asking them to remove language dealing with sexual orientation from their nondiscrimination policies.

In its email, the group argued that the governor has pledged he will not allow discrimination and there is no evidence discrimination has occurred. A push to write legal protections into the law, they argue, is "not about discrimination. It is about government recognition--and acceptance--of the homosexual lifestyle."

Meanwhile, the head of the Virginia conference of American Association of University Professors has written to Gov. Bob McDonnell expressing the group's "deep concern" over Cuccinelli's position.

"Discrimination on grounds irrelevant to qualifications and merit is abhorrent to the values of higher education," writes Patricia W. Cummins, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, as she echoed a call from Equality Virginia that McDonnell send legislation to the General Assembly before it adjourns Saturday to write non-discrimination against gays into the Virginia code.

And delegates rose on the House floor to discuss the issue as well.

Our colleague Fredrick Kunkle reports:

Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), speaking on the floor of the House Monday morning, called on delegates to back a bill that would protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Englin said this would address Cuccinelli's advice to colleges and universities was they had acted illegally by going farther than the General Assembly, which has the proper authority to enact such policies.

That bill, SB66, sponsored by Sen. Donald McEachin, was recently killed by a subcommittee of the House's General Laws Committee but could be revived with a majority vote of the full committee. The committee was scheduled to meet this afternoon but the meeting has been canceled.

The bill defines "sexual orientation" as "a person's actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression" and expressly excludes any attraction toward persons with whom sexual conduct would be illegal due to age of the people involved.

Englin also called on the governor to submit a bill that would guarantee nondiscrimination based on gender orientation protecting state employees throughout the Commonwealth but particularly at colleges and universities. .

"The governor has said he as a personal policy of nondiscrimination. And that is fantastic," Englin said. "But actions speak louder than words."

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Richmond) also rose to attack Cuccinelli's actions.

One Republican, Del. Robert Marshall (Prince William), stood to rebut the Democrats, noting that two previous attorney generals had taken a similar position. Marshall also argued that the term "sexual orientation" was so broad that it would protect a much larger class of people and sexual practices than most lawmakers assume.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 8, 2010; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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It's great to know that the Attorney General is dedicated to ensuring unequal protection under the law.

Seriously, doesn't he have a real job to do? Doesn't Virginia have real issues to deal with beyond Ken Cuccinelli's use of the most perverted possible interpretation of the term "sexual orientation"?

Posted by: KBfromNC | March 8, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I like to dress up like a pirate at work.

Why is there not discrimination protections for people like me who enjoy dressing up like a pirate? You know I can be fired at any time just because I like to live the pirate lifestyle!

I demand that protections should be put in so that I cannot be fired by the clothes I wear.

Posted by: alan8228 | March 9, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd like the left to name one person who has been fired from a Virginia state job because of sexual orientation.

Posted by: alan8228 | March 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Homosexuality is not some newly discovered race or sex. It's a lifestyle choice just like smoking or drinking. The homosexuals are being given SPECIAL RIGHTS that protect a lifestyle choice, which the homosexuals actively use to oppress the heterosexuals. The HOMONAZI'S know how to use the discrimination laws to their advantage to the max.

Posted by: penniless_taxpayer | March 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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