Virginian-Pilot praises McAuliffe for ‘religious freedoms’ veto but missed a very important point
First off, props goes to the Virginian Pilot editorial board for nailing the GOP for their poor social agenda this past session.
In a piece called “Be grateful for that veto pen” the Pilot’s editors point out how Gov. McAuliffe kept the Commonwealth from falling in line with Mississippi and North Carolina when it came to LGBTQ rights, among other things. The write up comes in response to House Majority Leader Kirk Cox critiquing McAuliffe for the bills he vetoed, including a proposed “religious freedoms” bill which would have put anti-LGBTQ hate into the state’s code… even more than it already is:
Cox decried not just the substance of the bills rejected by the governor, but the style in which McAuliffe issued those vetoes. He maligned the governor for taking “pride” in undoing all the work done by the legislature, especially the social agenda advanced by a few House members this session.
Perhaps the most fascinating revelation of the Cox’s after-action analysis is that he considers repugnant social measures passed by the Republican-run legislature an example of responsible governance.
Here’s an alternative review: Virginians warily eyeing the rolling disaster in North Carolina over that state’s so-called “bathroom bill” — or who recall with shame the commonwealth’s transvaginal ultrasound proposal — should jot off a note of thanks to the governor, because there but for his veto stamp go we.
All of this is well and good and fits into (an actual) common sense way to approach and manage a wildly-conservative electoral base, but later in the write up the Pilot’s Editors make a pretty big gaff, one journalists of their caliber should have check on before running in print:
Consider, for instance, the so-called religious freedom legislation that would have rolled back state protections for same-sex couples and Virginia’s LGBT residents. It squeaked through the Senate on a 21-19 vote and earned enthusiastic passage in the House, by 59-38.
The problem is in bold – anyone who reads GayRVA, or has been fired for being gay, or has been denied a house for being trans, or has been told their hate-based crime couldn’t be investigated locally, knows there are NO protections for LGBTQ’s in the Commonwealth.
McAuliffe signed an executive order when he took office that offers workplace protections for LGBTQ employees of the state, however it protects no one in the private sector. Attempts to add protections for LGBTQs during the last GA session were almost entirely shot down through a bizarre legislative technique that was notably used in the 80′s to bury laws dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis – they were essentially shoved in the closet.
Unfortunately we know a thing or two about closets and we refuse to be stuck in there.
But part of this is on the Pilot’s editors now – they should have known better. It’s these little passing comments that make people think its currently illegal to deny a service to someone because they are gay (it isn’t) – or that the largest, state funded adoption agency can deny an adopt to a same-sex couple because of their religious beliefs. Hell, it’s still in the state’s constitution that same-sex couples can’t marry, luckily federal law supersedes it.
Things wont get better unless we keep talking about it and set the record straight.
We might be able to get married, but we can be fired the moment we put up a photo of our same-sex spouse on our desk. We might be able to file our taxes together, but when we apply for a lease the renter could see we’re a loving same-sex couple and deny us services if they saw fit.
Things are getting better, but they are far from perfect. Bathroom bills and “religious freedoms” make for good headlines, but we’ve got a long way to go before Virginia’s LGBTQs are protected.
A Code Commission hold can silence groups from telling their stories in front of lawmakers.July 13, 2016
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