Virginia governor repeals protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation

Thanks to an executive order issued by newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on February 5, gay and lesbian state workers in that state are no longer specifically protected against discrimination. Prior to issuing his executive order, Gov. McDonnell rescinded an executive order signed by former Gov. Tim Kaine on January 14, 2006 which added veterans and sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination policy. The executive order signed by Gov. McDonnell prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities,” as well as veterans, but noticeably absent is any mention of sexual orientation.

I guess the message here is simple: if you’re gay or lesbian, you’re not welcome as a state employee in Virginia.


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21 thoughts on “Virginia governor repeals protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation

  1. Well that is just awful. What is wrong with a person that decides to remove protections for another person? I got to run or I might rant about this one all day. It’s still going to bug me…thanks Zach!

  2. You’ll have to excuse my ignorance…but…is there a federal law already in place that would protect gays and lesbians?

    1. There may be a policy in place preventing discrimination against federal _employees_, but I don’t believe there is anything sweeping enough to cover other employees, whether private sector or state. Anyone know for sure? Maybe I’ll look into this more tonight.

    2. Anon-

      No…there is no federal law that protects LGBT against discrimination. The first state to pass a law that even recognized LGBT people had the right to not be fired from employment, denied housing or service in an establishment because of their sexual orientation was passed in 1982…by Wisconsin. Unfortunately, there are several states that still don’t even grant these simple basic rights to LGBT individuals.

  3. See…this is what happens when you elect a Republican into any form of office. I think Virginia just realized that they were seindled and brainwashed by the Tea Party (KKK) Republicans. This is what will happen if Democrats lose the House and the Senate, will be going backward instead of forwards. Hopefully, Virginia has learned their lesson and others need to watch out as well.

    1. Give me a break. An honest debate is fine, but associating Republicans with the KKK? Please. Wisresident, is your real name Michael Moore?

  4. So he also rescinded non-discrimination for veterans? Sounds like there might be more to the story, like how “discrimination” is defined.

      1. Oh ok, the sentence from the article was a little misleading (“Gov. McDonnell rescinded an executive order signed by former Gov. Tim Kaine on January 14, 2006 which added veterans and sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination policy.”) Thanks for the clarification.

  5. ENDA has not passed yet. This would be a law protecting GLBT from discrimination. I don’t equate the GOP with the KKK, but I do equate this rescission of protections with the far right Christian leanings of the new Governor of VA, McDonnell. As one of his first acts as Governor he slapped GLBT employees and prospective employees in the face, by telling them, we won’t hire you and can fire you at will if we don’t like you for being in this class.

    What the Governor didn’t realize, is that his decision has repercussions beyond state employees no longer having a modicum of legal protection based on their sexual orientation. What it also means is that the GLBT community will not be visiting VA, a state that uses the tagline “VA is for lovers” I guess what they really mean is only certain kinds of lovers. It also means that meeting planners will be considering this when they review future plans for meetings. Their members and their own personal beliefs will lead them to drop VA from consideration. It also means that businesses that are thinking about expanding or relocating that believe in equal rights for all employees will get some heat not to include VA in their decision set based on this policy.

    I for one wrote to the VA Tourism Bureau and to the Governor ( to voice my displeasure and disbelief at his antediluvian beliefs.

    Elections have consequences, and we’ve seen the negative ones of a right wing Governor.

    1. “by telling them, we won’t hire you and can fire you at will if we don’t like you for being in this class” — Ok, but how would an employer even know not to hire someone based on sexual preference? It’s not like this can legally come up in a job interview. An employer is far more likely to discriminate based on someone being bald, fat, smelling bad, visible tattoo, the sound of their voice, being too short, etc.

      What does it mean to be part of a protected class — would sexual preference be part of affirmative action? It’s not the same as race. And if you believe it is, why do you stop at sexual preference and not continue on to the discriminated bald population?

      1. Last I checked, it is not sexual “preference”. It is sexual orientation. I like this little quote when it is called preference, “Calling homosexuality a choice is the time-tested way politicians signal their belief that it is the wrong choice.”

        Or how about:

        Are you born bald? Can you buy hair plugs or a toupee? Last I checked, there is nothing on the market to make one “not gay”. But please, don’t let me stop you from being a bigot.

        1. I suppose you would tell an overweight person that is discriminated against that they should just lose weight. And you are calling me a bigot? Way to overlook my point!

          All I said was how would an employer automatically ID a person who was gay, when they are far more likely to judge someone’s appearance or other superficial characteristics. Why are those factors not protected?

          Sorry to use the incorrect term of sexual orientation. In a few years when that term is no longer PC you can call me a bigot again. I guess it’s easier to just name call than address my valid arguments. Good day.

  6. “Way to overlook my point!” I give you my response again, “Are you born bald? Can you buy hair plugs or a toupee? Last I checked, there is nothing on the market to make one ‘not gay’.” Does that not count?

    Homosexual protections are not covered under EO and are covered on the state level. Which means you cannot ask or judge based on perceived sexual orientation. Now that has gone away in VA, which means you can now ask/judge based on perceived sexual orientation.

    Your “point” about appearance and superficial characterstics is mute. One can control their weight, appearance, smell. One cannot control their sex, race, sexual orientation.

    Direct question, do you think homosexualality can be fixed?

    1. You can’t control the sound of your voice, your height, unattractive mannerisms, etc. How insensitive of you to suggest it’s so easy for someone to control their weight or appearance. I suppose you would just tell a short person to wear shoe lifts. Gee, what a bigot you are!

      You use the example of buying plugs or a toupee, that doesn’t really make the person stop being bald. The equivalent would be that a gay person could pretend to have a wife or say he finds women attractive.

      My point about other forms of discrimination is not “mute” (and it’s not moot either by the way). Why should someone’s squeaky voice or ugly face be any less protected? Your arguments still do not address this point.

      I know that a few people have switched from gay to straight or discovered they were gay instead of straight later in life, but it’s completely irrelevant to this conversation whether homosexuality can be “fixed.” I’m not sure what you mean by “fixed,” but it sounds like a form of bizarre conditioning to me.

      The issue is the person’s condition at the time of being hired. Yes, an overweight person may have the ability to drop pounds, but does that mean you think it is okay for them to be discriminated against until they do? Given the eating habits of Americans these days, it’s probably not far off until this IS a protected class.

      The heart of the issue is that how many employers are going to discriminate based on any of these factors? If you think discrimination laws were what changed hiring practices of blacks and other minorities, I would argue it had more to do with changing times and attitudes.

  7. 1. I never said it was “easy” to control one’s weight. I said it can be controlled.
    2. Way to avoid my question.
    3. With the reversal of this protection, there could be a little box or line on the application which asks the applicant what their sexual orientation is. Last I checked, there is no line for weight, baldness, height, voice sound, etc.

    If times and attitudes have changed the hiring practices, why do minorities and women still get discriminated against?

    1. I didn’t avoid your question, I said it wasn’t relevant to our discussion. And it’s not. I don’t know what you mean by “fixed.” I know there are a few stories who claim to have switched one way or another, but in most cases I would say probably not. You have done a better job at avoiding the question.

      Do you honestly think a company is going to create an application with a box asking for sexual orientation? Please. And you wouldn’t need a box on an application to ask for weight, baldness, or height — you can SEE those characteristics, and THAT’S EXACTLY MY POINT! Are you even using your head?

      I said in general attitudes have changed, but some form of discrimination is always going to be around. However, it’s often difficult to prove. Women and minorities are discriminated based on appearance, something that has more in common with height and weight than the private characteristic of sexual practice.

  8. I am a Virginia native. This breaks my heart that Virginia is going in this direction. I thought I wanted to move back home when we elected Chris Christy as our governor, but I think I am better off here in New Jersey- my outragous property taxes and all!

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