According to the Richmond Times Dispatch the Attorney General has advised public institutions of higher learning in Virginia that they cannot make sexual orientation a protected class.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Virginia’s colleges and universities cannot prohibit discrimination against gays because the General Assembly has not authorized them to do so.
In a letter Thursday to the presidents, rectors and boards of visitors of Virginia public colleges, Cuccinelli said: the law and public policy of Virginia “prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’, ‘gender expression’ or like classification, as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy, absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.“
What kind of state do we now live in? The Richmond Times Dispatch further states:
He said the recipients must consider the letter “as the opinion and advice” of the office of Attorney General.
And the recently elected Attorney General said those colleges or universities that have included sexual orientation in their policies acted without proper authority and those policies are invalid.
Tucker Martin, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s director of communications, noted that “the legal analysis . . . is consistent with all prior opinions from the Office of the Attorney General over the last 25 years on the subject.“
But Martin added: “The governor will appoint board members based solely on their ability and on their strong commitment to educational excellence in Virginia. The governor expects that no Virginia college or university, or any other state agency, will engage in discrimination of any kind.“
Governor McDonnell can’t have it both ways. Is he saying that colleges cannot forbid bias on the basis on sexual orientation but people aren’t to discriminate? What kind of bizzaro-speak is that? Do we now have an honor system? How far will this go? Can we fire the gay History professor because he is seen having dinner with a male companion? Can we decline admissions to anyone who openly confesses to being gay? Or can students scream “faggot” and “queer” at those suspected of being gay as they walk across campus?
Supposedly a directive from the governor’s office forbids discrimination for anything other than merit or qualification. We all know how those 2 abstractions can be abused. Those words have vague meaning when trying to prove discrimination.
The Richmond Times Dispatch has posted statements from several of the state schools. All seemed to have very guarded remarks:
Most of the state’s public universities have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Today they were exploring how to react to Cuccinelli’s letter.
“Our policy covers some things the attorney general says it can’t,“ said University of Mary Washington Rector Nanalou Sauder. She said the board and UMW administrators will need to discuss what action the university can take.
“We expect that there’s going to be significant reaction from the university community as they learn about it,“ said Virginia Commonwealth University spokeswoman Pam Lepley.
College of William and Mary spokesman Brian Whitson said the letter would need to be closely reviewed before the college can determine how to proceed.
“William and Mary has had a long tradition of inclusion and diversity,“ he said.
The University of Virginia had no comment. “The university received a letter—marked privileged and confidential—from the attorney general. Any questions about the letter will need to be addressed to the attorney general or his office,“ spokeswoman Carol Wood said in a statement.
Virginia Democrats expressed strong disapproval:
Democrats, including Warner, the Democratic Party of Virginia and the Young Democrats of Virginia condemned Cuccinelli’s opinion.
“I am puzzled why the Attorney General would authorize our public colleges and universities to discriminate,“ Warner said in a statement.
“A decision on whether to hire, promote or offer admission should be based on whether or not the individual is qualified—period.“ “I think Governor McDonnell would be wise to reign (sic) in his Attorney General and get him back to doing the work of the people,“ said C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
“I believe the Attorney general’s advice will hurt the ability of our colleges and universities to attract the very best faculty, staff and students and damage the Commonwealth’s reputation for academic excellence and diversity,“ Warner said.
Perhaps a good class action law suit in in order. Does the General Assembly have to approve all policy at colleges and universities? Cuccinelli is a bigot and he is spreading his bigotry throughout the Commonwealth. He should be recalled. Unless Virginia is an anomaly, 10% of its residents are gay. Is Cuccinelli attempting to codify discrimination against them? This move is a giant step backwards for civil and human rights in Virginia.