Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A New Direction? [Updated]

The story here is still coming together, but it seems that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who I criticized in a recent post about this very issue, may be changing his stance on workplace protections for LGBTQ Virginians:
After a day of legislative maneuvering and protests, Gov. Bob McDonnell issued an unusual executive directive saying workplace discrimination, including bias against gays, is prohibited in Virginia.

McDonnell’s pronouncement doesn’t make the anti-bias statement law, but says it must be obeyed in Virginia because such discrimination would be against the state and U.S. Constitutions.

When taking office, McDonnell stopped short of signing the executive order that previous governors signed - one which would have banned such discrimination. And it's not clear that he's actually calling on the legislature to make the change into law. Additionally, his statement is meeting with some opposition from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was on his ticket and shares a solid Christian right background. We'll see what happens, but it's a positive sign. Hopefully McDonnell will press forward with this welcome change. I argued that he was and remains a culture warrior, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder explains the "executive directive" as carrying less force than an executive order, but nonetheless directing the state to treat McDonnell's earlier executive order as if it did protect gay workers. Ambinder notes that the decision seems to have been motivated, at least in part, by fear of appearing like too much of a culture warrior - and he adds that "it does say something that the very conservative Republican governor of Virginia understands that it does not look good to be seen as endorsing discrimination against gays." It's pretty revealing that Republicans are just now realizing this, but there you have it.

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