Antidote to Attorney General’s anti-gay advisory to colleges shows progress, but Governor and legislature need to do more to diminish discrimination.
Richmond, VA – The ACLU of Virginia today welcomed Governor Bob McDonnell’s Executive Directive 1, which instructs state agencies not to engage in employment discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Issued earlier today, McDonnell's directive comes amid a firestorm of criticism generated by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who last week sent letters to every public college in Virginia advising them that state law prohibits policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In Executive Directive 1, the Governor takes the opposite view from the Attorney General, writing that “discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated” and that “discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation…violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”
"We are pleased to see Governor McDonnell's order prohibiting discrimination of all kinds in state employment," said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. "It is a broad, positive statement that sends an important non-discriminatory message to every employee, but especially to the gay and lesbian employees who where targeted by the Attorney General.”
“We hope this is only the beginning,” added Willis, “and that the Governor’s example will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment. We also hope that the Governor will broaden his Directive to make it clear that students are not to be discriminated against and that gender identity is protected the same as sexual orientation.”
McDonnell created his own controversy upon taking office, when he removed from an existing executive order language protecting gay and lesbian state employees from discrimination.
Last week, in response to Cuccinelli’s letter, the ACLU sent its own letter to state university presidents warning them that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited under the U.S. Constitution and offering legal representation to anyone discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. To read a copy of the ACLU's letter, visit: http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/20100305CollegeNonDiscrimLtr.pdf.
For the full text of Executive Directive 1 visit: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Issues/ExecutiveDirectives/pdf/Directive-1.pdf
Contact: Kent Willis (office) 804/644-8022