Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has
reversed an executive order that protected gay state employees from
discrimination, the Washington Post reported.
An executive order signed by McDonnell
on February 5 includes protections for race, sex, religion and age,
but not sexual orientation. It replaces orders by Virginia's last
two Democratic governors which included protections for gay and
McDonnell had criticized his
predecessors for protecting gay workers in their similar executive
orders. As attorney general, McDonnell said the inclusion exceeded
the authority of the governor's office and that only the General
Assembly could enact such anti-discrimination measures.
In a historic first, the Virginia
Senate approved such a bill last week, but the measure faces a nearly
insurmountable incline in the Republican-controlled House.
Upon taking office on January 16,
McDonnell said the previous order signed by Democrat Tim Kaine
remained in effect, with the exception of the portions on sexual
McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson
said in a statement that the new order was necessary “to ensure
compliance with state law.”
Johnson said the governor strongly
opposes discrimination and pointed to a recent memo distributed to
staffers that says the McDonnell administration prohibits
discrimination “for any reason.”
“Hiring, promotion, discipline and
termination of employees shall be based on qualifications,
performance and results,” the memo says in part.