Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Virginia Democrats Condemn Virginia GOP Plan for License to Discriminate Laws

In a previous post it was noted how the Virginia GOP is stating that it will make "religious freedom" laws, a/k/a license to discriminate against gays a priority in the 2016 session of the General Assembly.  It is but further proof that the Virginia GOP remains a puppet of the foul hate group, The Family Foundation, and that demonizing gays as a wedge issue remains a higher priority for the Virginia GOP than addressing the state's infrastructure needs, pathetic support for the disabled, and growing the states economy.  Seemingly, the fiasco that GOP Gov. Mike Pence and Republicans in Indiana wrought for themselves has made not impression on the political whores and knuckle draggers at RPV.  A piece in the Roanoke Times looks at the pledge by Virginia Democrats to oppose the GOP effort to enact license to discriminate legislation and to make the GOP's backward thinking an issue in the 2015 Virginia elections.  Here are article highlights:

Democratic lawmakers and gay rights advocates on Monday fired back at Republican leaders in the House of Delegates for wanting to make religious freedom legislation — which they see as discriminatory against same-sex couples — a top priority in the 2016 General Assembly session.

“While Virginia Democrats are focused on creating jobs, Republicans have admitted that their top legislative priority is discriminating against people,”said Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker.

“Focusing on Indiana-style discrimination laws instead of growing our economy is irresponsible, dangerous and hopelessly out of touch.”

While Republicans say they will abide by the recent historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage the law of the land, Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, said in an interview last week that protections of religious liberties will be “the primary focus” for the House GOP next year.

House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said Monday that “some Republicans want to try to use fear of that as a wedge issue” to drive their voters to the polls in November, when all 140 seats of the General Assembly are up for election.

“There are some people that are scared that the sky is going to fall and all our liberties are going to be taken away, and I will speak loudly and clearly against any notion that we are going to compromise religious liberty or freedom. But I also will speak very strongly against using religion as a rationale for discrimination,” Toscano said.

To Democrats, gay rights and anti-discriminatory policies are about jobs and the economy, Toscano added.  “We hear from a lot of companies who are trying to recruit people that a lot of folks don’t feel that Virginia is all that hospitable,” Toscano said.

“And when you have provisions that allow people to discriminate based on their sexual orientation, it’s not at all helping with recruitment. To us, it’s an economic issue and not related to lifestyle as Republicans aim to make it.”
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said that almost anything that state legislators stress just four months before their names are on the ballot is related to the election.  “This was an organized Republican effort to capitalize on the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision,” Sabato said. “The November election for the General Assembly will have the lowest turnout of the four-year election cycle. That means both parties have to focus on themes that will generate decent turnout among the party base.”

In Virginia, religious and social-issue conservatives make up a large part of the GOP supporters.  “That’s why the legislators made their appeal as much about religious freedom as gay marriage. When people think the stakes are high, and their beliefs are seriously threatened, they tend to vote,” Sabato said.

Claire Guthrie GastaƱaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, called the GOP plan a “thinly veiled attempt to activate the most emotionally engaged parts of their base” for the upcoming elections.

Democrats could use Gilbert’s harsh language to increase turnout among their own supporters, as polls show every age group below 50 now supports gay marriage, and those under 30 back the idea by a massive majority. While the House is firmly in Republican hands, the Senate majority remains up for grabs.

The lesson?  Democrats have to turn out in November and drive a wooden stake through the heart of the Virginia GOP. 

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