Virginia Attorney General Ken
Cuccinelli II has defended his call for state universities and
colleges to rescind anti-discrimination policies based on sexual
orientation, saying that he's not out to be popular, local Roanoke
NBC affiliate WSLS 10 reported.
Cuccinelli found himself in a firestorm
of controversy last week when various media sources reported that the
state's top lawyer called such measures illegal in a letter written
to the state's public schools.
“It is my advice that the law and
public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college of
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,” Cuccinelli said in his letter.
And he advised the schools should “take
appropriate actions to bring their policies in conformance with the
law and public policy of Virginia.”
“My job as Attorney General is to
advise our various arms of state government what the law is and
that's what I was doing and will continue to do that and will be true
to the law whether people like it or not,” Cuccinelli said in a
telephone interview Monday. “My job isn't to be popular, it's to
correctly interpret the law for my clients”
The ACLU of Virginia, however,
disagreed with Cuccinelli's legal interpretation in a letter sent to
the state's public colleges and universities.
the letter, written by Rebecca K. Glenberg, the group's legal
director, the ACLU says that the Supreme Court “held that
discriminatory laws based on sheer animus toward lesbian and gay
persons violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment” in Romer V. Evans.
“If Ken Cuccinelli is trying to say
that the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply in Virginia, his first
significant act as attorney general is a giant step backwards and a
huge embarrassment for the state,” Kent Willis, executive director
of the group, said in a statement.
Cuccinelli also said he did not consult
Governor Bob McDonnell on the issue: “The governor had nothing to
do or knew about the fact that we were giving legal advice.”
McDonnell, a Republican, omitted
such protections for state workers in a February 5 executive order.