In June, 2017, Virginia voters will decide who will be the Democrat candidate for governor of Virginia. Given the toxic atmosphere in Washington,DC, and the Trump/Pence regime's attacks on LGBT civil rights it is critical that a Democrat be elected to the governor's mansion in November. Minorities and LGBT Virginians should be particularly concerned about the regressive and backward policies that a Republican governor would unleash on the Commonwealth. But so too should employers seeking to attract the best and brightest and most talented employees to their businesses. in the past the Republican controlled Virginia General Assembly has passed toxic anti-LGBT bills that would have granted special rights to Christian extremists. Thankfully, Governor McAuliffe vetoed the bills that made it through the legislature. It is important that his successor recognize the economic damage legalizing hate would have on Virginia. Ralph Northam - unlike his challenger for the gubernatorial nomination who gives LGBT rights only passing mention on his campaign website - understands this as he laid out in a op-ed in the Virginian Pilot. Here are column highlights that remind us why we need Ralph Northam in the governor's mansion:
A governor’s priorities and values make an enormous difference in the direction of a state. Recent events have shown us that having the right governor can make all the difference.
Last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed Senate Bill 41. The bill would discriminate against thousands of Virginians and send the absolute wrong message to current and prospective employers who want their employees and their families to live in a welcoming and inclusive commonwealth.
Why does this matter in Virginia? As a member of McAuliffe’s Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, I work hard to make sure that Virginia is business-friendly and welcoming to all. The passage of SB41 through our General Assembly sends a signal to major companies, CEOs, and talented workers that Virginia could be the next North Carolina if we’re not careful.
In recent commentary for CNBC, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said “As a global hospitality leader and multistate employer, these legislative skirmishes can be frustrating and costly. We still see a patchwork of gaps in state and local nondiscrimination laws that add complications and uncertainty for our people and local managers. It dismays many of us that, in 29 states, people are still at risk of losing their job just for being gay or transgender. Predictability in nondiscrimination laws would be welcome.”
I am a cofounder and now co-owner of our Norfolk-based pediatric neurology practice, and as a small business owner I know that stability and predictability are attractive traits when planning the growth of your organization. Businesses should be interested in serving the most customers the best product possible, not figuring out the gender or relationship status of people who walk in the door. When Virginia offers a pro-business, all-are-welcome environment, we are better able to compete with other states.
Especially in light of federal budget cuts and sequestration, we have to continue to be innovative and forward thinking to grow our economy. This type of legislation hurts our efforts to attract new businesses and increase jobs, and that is why inclusion will continue to be one of my top priorities.
In my role as lieutenant governor and working with McAuliffe, my priority is to create an environment that best serves all Virginians. That means recruiting new businesses and supporting current businesses in order to bring good-paying jobs and top talent. That means providing basic services that every citizen needs in order to contribute to our common good. And that means ensuring that every Virginian has a fair shot to reach their full potential.
I will fight to keep Virginia focused on these priorities.
Be assured that more discriminatory bills will be introduced in coming years by Republican legislators seeking to prostitute themselves to Christian extremists who hold undue influence over the GOP (this effort to infuse of religious based hate into the civil laws is one of the reasons I left the GOP a number of years ago as did most of my extended family). We need a man like Ralph Northam in the governor's mansion to stop attacks of equality and openness in Virginia's economy.