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Gay rights group "disappointed" in McDonnell college board appointment

Rosalind Helderman

The Chairman of the Board of Equality Virginia, the state's gay rights group, is taking issue with one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's appointees to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

McDonnell Thursday appointed John Rocovich, chairman of a Roanoke lawfirm, to the university's governing board. Rocovich had previously served on the board under Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), during a time when the board repealed the school's policy barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

That issue has returned to the forefront in recent months, after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) wrote a letter to each public university, asking them to rescind such policies.

The universities have responded by reaffirming those policies, and McDonnell issued Executive Directive No. 1, prohibiting discrimination in the state workforce.

Mark Board, chair of the Board of Equality Virginia, said the following about Rocovich's appointment in a statement:

Equality Virginia is disappointed that the Governor would look to the past in making board appointments and choose to reappoint John Rocovich to the Virginia Tech board," said Mark Board, chairman of the group in a statement today. "During Mr. Rocovich's tenure as Rector of the VA Tech Board in 2003, he led the board to revoke the University's commitment to affirmative action and to repeal the University's prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation. When his term expired, Governor Warner replaced him on the Board, and the new board reversed these actions. Given this past history, the Governor's decision to reappoint Mr. Rocovich to the Tech Board sends a negative message to the Hokie nation about the sincerity of the Governor's commitment to the enforcement of his executive directive #1 and his commitment to ensure Tech's GLBT employees and students are protected from discrimination.

Rocovich could not be reached Thursday. We've asked the governor's office for a response and we'll let you know what they say.

UPDATED: McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson responded, ""The governor has appointed a diverse group of Virginia leaders to these positions. Mr. Rocovich is a leader in the business and education community. The governor believes this makes him an excellent choice to serve the Commonwealth and Virginia Tech on its board of visitors."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 1, 2010; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  James Gilmore III , Ken Cuccinelli , Mark Warner , Rosalind Helderman  
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Next: Va. again asks for representation on Metro board


This article concludes with, "We've asked the governor's office for a response and we'll let you know what they say."

It doesn't matter what they say, it only matters what they do. Not by his words do I judge the heart of Governor McDonnell to be that of a bigot, but by his actions.

Posted by: Len_RI1 | July 1, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

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