LGBT state employees now have to be a little more careful. Their jobs are no longer protected under the current administration.
While he was attorney general, Governor McDonnell expressed that protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation was fine in theory, but should be done through legislation rather than an executive declaration.
McDonnell on Feb. 5 signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities,” In his first month in office, there was much speculation about his actions (or lack thereof) regarding previous Gov. Kaine’s position in this area. The fact that McDonnell felt the need to specifically make a new executive order, with the exclusion of sexual orientation, seems to contradict his previous statement that the impetus should come from the legislature. Some say that executive orders of this kind are merely symbolic—that McDonnell is the first governor in 30 years to exclude this category is telling.
SB 66, Nondiscrimination in state employment, has passed the Senate, but is likely to die in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. It would be interesting to see what McDonnell does with the bill, should it pass. Would he sign off on the bill, supporting it in the way he said it should be done?
The Governor backs a policy he recently sent to staff members and Cabinet secretaries indicating that his office would not discriminate “for any reason.” If this is true, why then, can’t this concept be applied to all state workers? To support one without the other seems disingenuous.
Holly Gordon is an advocate for LGBT equality in Richmond, VA volunteering with Equality Virginia, ROSMY, and other community organizations.