What backward times we live in. When Maryland's Attorney General abuses the law, he's the media's hero--yet when his Virginia counterpart upholds the law, he's a villain. Unfortunately, that's the byproduct of an activist culture where too many politicians use their jobs to advance a personal agenda. In an era like this one, it can sometimes come as a shock when leaders act out of deference to the law instead of in defiance to it. For states like Virginia, where the old guard let the rules slide, it makes headlines when the new leadership tries to enforce the law.
Ken Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general and chief legal counsel, sent a shudder down the spine of Virginia's liberal colleges and universities when he asked them to respect the Commonwealth's discrimination policy, which--unlike many college policies--does not grant special status to homosexuals or transgenders. In a letter to the schools' chief officers, Cuccinelli tries to correct any campus rules that contradict the current law. "It is my advice that the law and public policy of... Virginia prohibit a college or university from including 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression' or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly." In the letter, Cuccinelli points out that the Virginia legislature has rejected bills that would add "sexual orientation" to the nondiscrimination statutes a whopping 27 times since 1997.
During the previous administration, former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) got around the law by issuing an executive order demanding that "sexual orientation" be included as a protected class. In one of his first acts as Governor, Bob McDonnell (R) served notice that the Commonwealth was under new management by refusing to follow suit. Yesterday, he signaled his support for the state's chief law enforcer, saying in a statement that Cuccinelli's letter "is consistent with all prior opinions from the Office of the Attorney General over the last 25 years on the subject."
Obviously, this doesn't sit well on predominately liberal campuses that want the state's funding--but not its oversight. Their radical policies may have gone unchecked under the previous regime, but Ken Cuccinelli deserves applause for bringing these universities back under the authority of Virginia's statute. While some colleges have taken exception with the move, Cuccinelli's decision doesn't mean that schools will suddenly start discriminating against people. What it does mean is that those universities can no longer discriminate against those of us who oppose homosexuality.