Gays and lesbians in Virginia have lost specific protection from discrimination in the workplace after Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) reissued the state's non-discrimination policy with one group conspicuously absent from the list.
This order is in furtherance of the stated policy enacted by the General Assembly, and specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.
It didn't take McDonnell long to issue this executive order. He took office Jan. 16 of this year and signed the order less than three weeks later on Feb. 5.
The order rescinds the policy of his predecessor Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat who promised to be "fair and inclusive" in his inaugural address and then — as one of his first actions — added veterans and sexual orientation to the state's non-discrimination policy.
Gov. McDonnell assured reporters that his administration is not anti-gay, and that he will work to ensure fair treatment of all workers.
“The only thing I care about is will they work hard, will they follow the vision that I’ve outlined for state government, will they have a servant’s heart, do they love Virginia and will they get results,” he said.
The gay and lesbian press was not convinced, pointing out that he opposed protecting gays from discrimination when he was the state's Attorney General.
The Governor has released a policy he recently sent to staff members and Cabinet secretaries indicating that his office would not discriminate “for any reason,” but his message could hardly be clearer: discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not prohibited.
“People in the commonwealth want individuals to be judged on performance rendered on the job, not their personal lifestyles,” said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, D-Henry.
McDonnell faced opposition during his 2009 campaign for governor when his 1989 graduate thesis emerged, in which he argued that homosexuality could have a negative impact on society.
He has stated that his views have changed since then.