I've met Robyn Deane - we had a nice talk at the Commonwealth Dinner back on May 1, 2010, and she reads this blog - and, candidly, I thinks she's terrific. She also has a unique perspective on Virginia's current Governor, Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell as his former brother-in-law before divorcing Maureen McDonnell's younger sister and transitioning.
I welcome her decision to become more involved in advocacy for LGBT equality in Virginia and nationally. Some question her motives for speaking out, but having talked with her at length, her heart seems to be in the right place.
Personally, what I find so odd about McDonnell is that he knows a number of gays - former Congressman Ed Schrock and myself are but two other gay men McDonnell has known for far more than a decade - and, hence, he ought to realize that we're fully human and he should be less homophobic.
Bob, remember helping me on my political campaign in 1994? The time when we were alone and talked one on one at John Langlois' office? Remember my children who you always treated so nicely?
Sadly, instead of showing tolerance, McDonnell seems more and more a puppet for the nastiest elements of the Christian Right in Virginia (e.g., The Family Foundation and Pat Robertson) who, if given their way, would turn the state into a theocracy akin to Massachusetts under the Puritans. Frankly, I don't understand it. Bob, what are you so afraid of?
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a great story on Robyn. Here are some highlights:
"I am father to three of the present governor's nephews and nieces," she announced to the more than 100 people trying to shield themselves from the rain. "Whoa," someone muttered. "I'm also uncle to five of his children, so that puts me kind of close," Deane continued. "He is my former brother-in-law... He witnessed the impact that all of this coming out can have on one's life. He had a front-row-center seat."
Deane said she decided to announce her relationship to McDonnell on April 21 because she feels that her situation hardened some of his views on sexual orientation. The governor opposes same-sex marriage and has not backed measures that protect gay state workers from discrimination. "Maybe I sealed an anger in him toward people like us," she said at the rally.
McDonnell, who has turned down invitations from Deane to meet and has not spoken publicly about her, declined to comment for this article. "This is a personal matter," said his spokesman, Tucker Martin. "The governor wishes Robyn the very best."
Deane scoffs at the notion that she will hurt the cause. She insists she can only help, particularly now that gay rights have taken much more of a role in the state policy debate than in recent years.
"I raised my kids to question everything -- always challenge status quo thinking and make a difference,'' she said. "I wouldn't be true to those values if I felt this way but stayed over here, worried about what this, this, this person thinks. Nothing would ever change. "I think the voice needs to be heard," she said. "I can't sit back and wait."
I hope Robyn remains engaged. I also find it ironic that some of the self-appointed "leaders" of the LGBT rights movement are critical. Seriously, they sure as Hell have not accomplished a whole lot for us here in Virginia. In fact, things have become worse on their watch. As for McDonnell, he needs to come clean as to why he treats those gays that he knows and has known so badly.
Is it only to curry favor with the Christianists or something else?