In the wake of Uber-Christianist Virginia Attorney General Ken "Cooch" Cuccinelli's directive to all Virginia public colleges and universities to rescind their non-discrimination policies insofar as they include "sexual orientation" as a protected class, Equality Virginia is asking Virginia residents to voice their displeasure with Governor Bob McDonnell and others to protest the draconian anti-gay agenda being set by the Republican administration.
Perhaps more importantly, Equality Virginia is asking that if you are a graduate of a Virginia public college or university, you let your alma mater know that you will be closing your checkbook in terms of contributions if the college or university knuckles under to Cooch's demands.
Many of Virginia's top schools - e.g., the University of Virginia, William & Mary, and Virginia Tech - rely heavily on out of state alumni contributions to meet funding needs. Obviously, if these institutions face a significant financial hit if they give in to religious based discrimination by the Attorney General, they will be much more vocal in their protestations against Cuccinelli and Bob McDonnell.
As a UVA alumni myself, I am letting UVA know my views. I encourage others to do like wise.
Here are some highlights from Equality Virginia's call to action:
Equality Virginia members and allies are urged to take the following actions NOW in response to this threat to the basic human rights of members of Virginia's college and university communities:
1) Contact the Governor and let him know that you support policies that protect GLBT Virginians from discrimination and that you expect him to provide leadership in ensuring that Virginia is truly a "Commonwealth of Opportunity" for all Virginians, including GLBT Virginians.
2) If you are an alum, student, faculty or staff member of a Virginia college or university, contact your institution's president and let him or her know that you want your college or university to stand with its GLBT students, faculty, staff and alumni and reject the advice of the Attorney General.
3) Sign EV's online petition in favor of changing the law to provide nondiscrimination protection for all. Or download the hard copy petition and collect as many signatures as you can!
4) Spread the word on FaceBook, Twitter and other social media sites about the need to take action NOW.
5) Help EV make a statement about the breadth and depth of support for our work by ensuring that this year's [Commonwealth Dinner] dinner is sold out. Buy your tickets now.
6) Write a resolution for your student group or faculty senate in response to Cuccinelli's letter.
The bottom line is that we need to make Cooch and Taliban Bob's lives a living Hell and make it clear that such religious based bigotry is going to cost Virginia dearly. It is also important to recognize that Virginia's colleges and universities are not the only targets on Cuccinelli's list. As the editor of the Falls Church News-Press has made clear in a public statement, Virginia's municipalities that have adopted non-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens/employees are likely next. Here are some highlights:
Because of its use of language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, the City of Falls Church is "in Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's cross hairs," Falls Church News-Press editor Nicholas F. Benton told the F.C. City Council in a public statement at the Council's business meeting tonight. Benton urged the Council to take action to condemn the "unprovoked, inflamatory act of bigotry" by Cuccinelli in the form of a letter to Virginia's state colleges and universities last week advising them to remove any policy language protecting the rights of lesbians and gays. Benton's comments were later echoed by F.C. Councilman Lawrence Webb. Following that, Mayor Robin Gardner urged that a statement on the subject be drafted for a vote at the next Council meeting.
The following is the text of Benton's statement to the Council, which he said he will also present to the board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce at its business meeting tomorrow morning.
The unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry by the new Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last week, in the form of a letter advising Virginia colleges and universities to remove language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, takes away existing protections from an embattled minority, and represents a profound threat to the Commonwealth in a number of important ways.
"First, it represents an effort to remove protections that currently exist for a minority that is well-known for its susceptibility to discrimination, hate and violent attacks, from elementary school playgrounds through adulthood.
"Second, it represents a major blow to Virginia's economic development efforts, including it is effort to secure the relocation of major corporations like Northrup-Grumman and other large business entities, because of the chilling effect Cuccinelli's action will have on the desire and willingness of those businesses and their employees to locate to the state.
"Fourth, it fuels a climate of intimidation and hate against minorities of all types in the state in a time when mouthpieces of the far right are causing such negative trends to grow, empowering bigots with a sense of entitlement to act out their hatred with impunity.
"I urge every fair-minded citizen, every civil libertarian, every elected official of any party, and every proponent of economic growth in Virginia, every advocate of civility, to go on record in strong opposition to the Attorney General's incendiary action and to affirm that every Virginian enjoys equal protection under the law.
Again, I encourage readers from both within and outside of Virginia to join in actions to pressure Virginia's government and courts to end religious based discrimination in the Commonwealth. We need as much help as possible from out of state alumni since one can rest assured that The Family Foundation, Daddy Dobson's Virginia affiliate will pull out the stops to get Christianist to voice support for Cuccinelli.