Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has
directed state agencies not to discriminate against gay people in the
area of employment, the AP reported.
McDonnell's directive overrides
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II's recent letter to public
colleges and universities calling such protections illegal.
The Republican governor signed a
February 5 executive order which banned employment discrimination for
state workers based on race, sex, religion and age, but not sexual
orientation. It replaced orders by Virginia's last two Democratic
governors which included protections for gay and lesbian workers.
Cuccinelli, a Republican who took
office in January, last week called on the state's colleges and
universities to rescind anti-discrimination policies based on sexual
“It is my advice that the law and
public policy of the Commonwealth 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,” 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.”
On Wednesday, more than 1000 students
rallied at Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University and another
200 at the Statehouse to protest Cuccinelli's position, which he had
defended as late as Monday, saying that he's not out to be popular.
“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 with local Roanoke NBC affiliate WSLS 10. “My
job isn't to be popular, it's to correctly interpret the law for my
McDonnell told reporters that he wanted
to clarify his administration's position on employment discrimination
in the wake of Cuccinelli's letter.
“I felt it was necessary to make sure
that every Virginian, every state employee know that we will not
tolerate discrimination,” he said. “We will not tolerate
discrimination based on sexual orientation or any other basis that's
outlawed under state or federal law or the Constitution, and if it is
reported, then I will take action, from reprimand to termination, to
make sure that does not occur.”
This session, House lawmakers have
rejected three slightly-varied measures that sought to outlaw
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity