On Friday, Virginia Governor Mark Warner stepped up to the issue of workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians and did the right thing. As the chief personnel officer of the Commonwealth, he included a provision in the state budget he proposed that makes clear that Virginia's equal opportunity policy covers sexual orientation. Then, he reissued his own executive order No. 1 to declare that Virginia's "firm and unwavering policy ... to assure equal opportunity in all facets of state government" forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.
According to the HRC, Virginia joins 25 other states and 420 of the Fortune 500 companies that have nondiscrimination policies.
In a competitive employment environment, Warner's policy decision makes good sense for Virginia and Virginia taxpayers who want the best and the brightest working in state government and at our public colleges and universities.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reports today that a fight (led by who else? Bob Marshall) is already brewing on this small step forward for fairness.
But, really, how controversial can this be when, as the TD reports, Speaker of the House Bill Howell is "among 84 Republican and Democratic legislators who signed a pledge with Equality Virginia, a gay-rights lobbying organization that pressed Warner for the ban, to prohibit discrimination in their offices."
Tim Kaine's spokeswoman has said that Kaine's Executive Order 1 will continue to prohibit discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation.
People of right reason should get ready to respond, though, when Marhall and others try to strip the langugage from the budget bill and pass legislation to prohibit the Governor from extending this protection to workers by Executive Order.