Friday, November 18, 2011

Will LGBT Virginians Be Open Game for Christianists?

Even under the best of circumstances, Virginia is not what one would describe as a gay friendly state. LGBT citizens have no employment nondiscrimination protections and can be fired at will. On the adoption front, pending regulations will likely bar same sex couples from adopting and agencies can openly discriminate against same sex couples. Worse yet, our relationships have less legal standing than those between pet owners and their pets. Despite this bleak picture, things are likely to get even worse now that the anti-gay Republican Party has taken a slim majority in the Virginia Senate which had heretofore been a last bulwark against the most extreme anti-gay batshitery that the GOP dominated House of Delegates and the ever homophobic Attorney General, Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli might dream up. The Washington Blade looks ate the depressing picture ahead over the next few years. Here is a sampling:

Republicans increased their existing majority in the state’s House of Delegates in the Nov. 8 election. With Republican Robert McDonnell as governor, if Republicans win the dispute over who fully controls the Senate, the conservative-leaning GOP would be in control of all branches of the Virginia government for the first time since the Civil War.

“Virginia is never a place to look for gay-friendly legislation,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political communications at George Mason University and a specialist in Virginia politics. “But what you’re looking at now is a Christian conservative element of the Republican Party that is very much in the driver’s seat going forward.”

Gay Democratic leaders and LGBT activists acknowledge that even if Democrats prevail on the issue of power sharing regarding Senate committees, the Republican majority for votes on legislation means that that the Senate is now far less likely to block anti-gay bills as it did when it was under Democratic control.

“We can certainly expect that there’s going to be a cascade of really unsavory bills flooding over to the Senate from the House as there have been in recent years pertaining to issues of immigration, women’s rights and obviously gay rights, too,” said Nick Benton, editor and publisher of the Falls Church News-Press and board member of LGBT Democrats of Virginia.

“And how many of those bills can be made to die in the Senate at this point becomes a much dicier situation,” Benton said. “There’s no guarantee at all that any of that stuff is going to be beaten back.”

[S]ome Democrats this week said they dispute Republicans’ contention that the lieutenant governor has the power to vote on non-legislative issues. Fundamentally, the question is whether under the Virginia Constitution he [Lt. Governor Bill Bolling] has the authority to vote on Senate organizational issues as contrasted to legislative matters, substantive matters,”

Since committees and their chairs decide which bills reach the Senate floor for a vote, a determination of which party controls the committees will play a key role in deciding which bills are passed, including a bill introduced in past years calling for banning adoptions by gay and lesbian parents.

Disturbing days are likely ahead and if the Christianists in the Republican Party of Virginia have their way, Virginia will be racing backwards in time and will become increasingly unattractive for modern progressive businesses which will find their employees unwilling to relocate to a quasi-theocracy. Sadly, ignorance, bigotry and backwardness are now the chief hallmarks of the Republican party of Virginia. As I have noted before, if circumstances were different, I'd be gone from Virginia in a heartbeat.

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