Friday, September 13, 2013

Virginia's 2013 Battlefield - What It Means for LGBT Virginians

For LGBT Virginians, the candidates of the Virginia GOP and the Democrats are polar opposites.  On the Republican side, the candidates would like to re-criminalize homosexuality and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court to reinstate Virginia's sodomy statute which despite Cuccinelli's claims to the contrary has historically been used to target gays and impose felony convictions rather mere misdemeanor convictions that would otherwise apply.  In contrast, the Democratic slate supports gay marriage and employment non-discrimination protections.  A piece in Metro Weekly looks at the race and what is at stake for LGBT Virginians.  Here are highlights:

In recent years, the Virginia General Assembly has passed legislation making it harder for gay people to adopt, placed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot – easily approved by voters – and has scuttled bills that would prohibit employment discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has arguably made a career out of opposing LGBT equality.

Against this backdrop, Virginia's LGBT community and its allies are hoping to rally, raise money and fight back against even further erosion of rights in the commonwealth.

[On] LGBT-related issues, however, Fisette noted there, too, Richmond can pull the rug out from under local jurisdictions. He pointed to the Arlington County Board, prior to his election, adding domestic-partner benefits, after which the county was successfully sued, with the Supreme Court of Virginia ruling the county had not been granted authority by the General Assembly to grant such benefits. He also noted that although some jurisdictions have nondiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation, bills that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity have regularly passed the state Senate only to be killed in the House of Delegates.

The passage of a nondiscrimination bill remains one of Equality Virginia's main priorities, but Fisette told Metro Weekly that it will require ''significant turnover'' in the House of Delegates in November to find enough votes to pass such a bill.

''This election is more stark than most, because you have a rabidly anti-gay candidate versus a strong ally for governor,'' Fisette said of LGBT issues in this year's elections. ''And, frankly, it goes all the way down the ticket. In Virginia, we have to be as committed to voting this year as we were last year for Obama.''

Regarding this fall's statewide races, Parrish said that Virginia's business community has already weighed in on LGBT equality by instituting employment-nondiscrimination policies and domestic-partner benefits, in contrast with Virginia government.

Parrish characterized Cuccinelli's actions as attorney general as ''quite aggressive'' in opposing LGBT equality, and suggested that voters also look closely at the attorney general's race in addition to the governor's race, as the next attorney general will interpret various laws that directly impact LGBT Virginias.

''Local and state governments need to catch up with the business community,'' Parrish said. ''We cannot continue to be hurt by an attorney general and a governor who think LGBT people should not be treated equally.''

LGBT Virginians cannot afford to be complacent or to sit on their asses at home on election day.  They need to get out and vote and work to make sure all of their friends and neighbors get out and vote for pro-equality candidates.   If they don't, we may pay a very high price.  The same goes for women and minorities.

No comments: