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.

In 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.