McDonnell's former relative speaks out for gay rights
Robyn Deane, dressed in a red raincoat, jeans and heels, glanced at her handwritten notes before peering at the crowd gathered outside Virginia's Capitol to promote the rights of gay and transgender state workers.
For years, Deane, a man who is in the process of becoming of woman, had considered revealing her lengthy but largely unknown connection to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). She had told no one that this would finally be the moment she went public.
"I am father to three of the present governor's nephews and nieces," she announced to the more than 100 people trying to shield themselves from the rain. "I'm also uncle to five of his children, so that puts me kind of close. He is my former brother-in-law. . . . He witnessed the impact that all of this coming out can have on one's life. He had a front-row-center seat."
Deane's declaration was the first step in her second coming out, this time as an activist attempting to leverage her past association to McDonnell to promote a cause that has become dear to her: the advancement of gay and transgender rights. In particular, Deane wants Virginia and national lawmakers to pass legislation that prevents discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. She also wants to persuade McDonnell to speak publicly about how people should accept those who are gay or transgender.
Deane also believes their past relationship makes her the most qualified person to persuade the governor to change his views, even though the last time they saw each other was at a family Christmas gathering more than a decade ago, just before Deane divorced a younger sister of McDonnell's wife, Maureen, in 1999 after 17 years.
"He should be able to see what social intolerance does," she said. "He's in a position that he can talk about it."
Read the full story in today's Washington Post
July 16, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell
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