Virginia Attorney General Ken
Cuccinelli II continues to speak out on why he called on state
universities and colleges to rescind anti-discrimination policies
based on sexual orientation.
Cuccinelli's latest remarks appear in a
Saturday op-ed in the Richmond
He writes that his office received
numerous inquiries on the subject. While he believes that
“government should not single out anyone for negative treatment,”
he insists that “A public university simply lacks the power to
create a new specially protected class under Virginia law.”
“Virginia's public universities are,
at all times, subject to the control of the General Assembly,” he
adds. “They have no authority greater than that which has been
granted them by the General Assembly.”
Cuccinelli, a Republican who took
office in January, found himself in a firestorm of controversy when
various media sources reported that the state's top attorney called
such measures illegal in a letter written to the state's public
“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 to “take
appropriate actions to bring their policies in conformance with the
law and public policy of Virginia.”
School officials, students and campus
organizations loudly objected to Cuccinelli's letter. On Wednesday
of last week, more than 1000 students rallied at Richmond's Virginia
Commonwealth University and another 200 at the Statehouse to protest
the AG's position.
Governor Bob McDonnell stepped in
hoping to cool down the situation. McDonnell directed state agencies
not to discriminate against gay people in the area of employment,
overriding Cuccinelli's opinion. The Republican governor omitted
such protections in his February 5 executive order.
This session, House lawmakers have
rejected three slightly-varied measures that sought to outlaw
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Gay activists say McDonnell should
press lawmakers to approve the measures.