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VA Governor Warner adds sexual orientation to state employment protections

An ace move by Governor Mark Warner. It will raise the ire of all the fundies in this state. If you ignore cosmopolitan northern Virginia (NoVa), is a big Red state, home to Falwell and a host of wingnuttery and anti-gay legislation. (Sovo Online):

Today Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) made it illegal to discriminate against someone for being gay in state employment.

Va. Gov. Mark Warner’s (D) actions have made it illegal to discriminate against state workers because of their sexual orienation.
Warner included the protections in his 2006-2008 budget, which carries the force of law, and modified Executive Order One to reflect the change.

Equality Virginia gave the governor a big thumb’s up.

Equality Virginia today applauded Governor Mark R. Warner for amending the equal opportunity policy of the Commonwealth to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Governor Warner continues his commitment to run the Commonwealth as a smart, well-managed business. When Virginia’s top employers, including 14 of the 19 Fortune 500 companies based here have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, it makes sense for Virginia to do the same. To compete in the marketplace for top-notch employees, you need to offer similar policies,” said Dyana Mason, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Sixty members of the House of Delegates and 24 Virginia Senators have already made commitments not to discriminate in their legislative hiring. It makes sense to extend this same protection to the entire Virginia state work force.”

The EV release also lists the largest private employers in the state with anti-discrimination policies.

Of the top ten largest private employers in the Commonwealth, at least eight have sexual orientation protections in their non-discrimination policies:

* Wal-Mart (#1)
* Northrop Grumman Newport News (#2)
* Food Lion (#3)
* Inova Fairfax Hospital (#5)
* Capital One Bank (#6)
* Science Applications International (SAIC) (#7)
* Booz Allen Hamilton (#8)
* 7-Eleven (#10)

This move by Warner is politically significant, in a state that has seen some of the most anti-gay legislative efforts imaginable. He’s really is sticking it to the Right on this one. Consider this:

* Last year’s Assembly passed the Marriage Affirmation Act, which bans gay unions, and outlaws legal agreements between residents of the same sex that resemble marriage rights.

* Virginia’s House voted 78-18 in favor of a marriage amendment, which defines marriage as the union of a man and woman and bans same-sex civil unions. The legislature must pass the amendment again next year, and then it will go before voters in November 2006.

* A bill to ban gay adoption, which would have required that the circuit court ask would-be parents if they are “known to engage in current voluntary homosexual activity” or are “unmarried and cohabiting with another adult to whom he is not related by blood or marriage” was passed the House but was killed by a Senate committee.

* Wingnut Prince William County Republican Delegate Scott Ligamfelter managed to get a bill creating the option for a special license plate in Virginia with the words “traditional marriage” on it passed, but then was withdrawn only after the state ACLU threatened to file a lawsuit based on recent legal precedents, holding that state-issued personalized license plates are public forums in which all viewpoints on a subject must be allowed.

For standing up to the bigots, you can send a thank you to Governor Warner on this web form.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding