McDonnell's Massive, Sudden U-Turn On Gay Rights

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There are many signs that the GOP's most fanatical elements - the Cheneys, Kristols, Thiessen, McCarthy, Perkins, McDonnell - are beginning to realize they have over-stepped. The revolt against the gutter McCarthyism of the Keep America Safe group - which has mobilized all sane conservatives, even as far right as Ken Starr - is one sign. The February shift back toward support for health insurance reform is another. The farce of the Massa-Beck performance art gone awry, along with yet another anti-gay Republican being outed as gay seems to have prompted even a total maniac like Michelle Malkin to step back a little.

But few things were more aggressively meretricious than the allegedly moderate Virginia governor recent removal of sexual orientation as a non-discrimination category in state employment. Except his fellow Republican attorney-general, Christianist Ken Cuccinelli - who ran on McDonnell's moderate ticket - seeking to prevent any state colleges in Virginia from having non-discrimination policies against gays and lesbians and transgender and bisexual students.

This was a direct contradiction of McDonnell's campaign pitch that he was not a far right Christianist, determined to persecute gay people even more than they are already disenfranchised in Virginia. But Cuccinelli's act was a direct assault on the next generation who, Republican and Democrat and Independent, view gay people as human beings and worthy of equal treatment.

But guess what? McDonnell just issued a statement, with less force than his executive order, that backtracks on his previous position. Money quote:

Discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

That's an amazing statement. It essentially states that gay people have a federal constitutional right to marry! The times they are a changing.

Here's the full executive order:

STANDARD OF CONDUCT FOR CABINET MEMBERS, EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCY HEADS, MANAGERS, SUPERVISORS AND EMPLOYEES CONCERNING EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION

As the chief executive officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I hereby establish a standard of conduct to ensure that all cabinet members, Executive Branch agency heads, managers, supervisors and employees understand and enforce state and federal law prohibiting employment discrimination. Employment discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated by this Administration.

The Virginia Human Rights Act recognizes the unlawfulness of conduct that violates any Virginia or federal statute or regulation governing discrimination against certain enumerated classes of persons. The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution prohibits discrimination without a rational basis against any class of persons. Discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

Therefore, discrimination against enumerated classes of persons set forth in the Virginia Human Rights Act or discrimination against any class of persons without a rational basis is prohibited. Consistent with state and federal law, and the Virginia and United States Constitutions, I hereby direct that the hiring, promotion, compensation, treatment, discipline, and termination of state employees shall be based on an individual’s job qualifications, merit and performance.

No employee of the Executive Branch shall engage in any discriminatory conduct against another employee. Allegations of any violation of the law or this standard of conduct shall be brought promptly to the attention of the Director of the Department of Human Resource Management for review and corrective action. Any cabinet member, agency head, manager, supervisor or employee who discriminates against a state employee or prospective employee in violation of the law or this standard of conduct shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, ranging from reprimand to termination.

I further direct agency heads to ensure that every manager and supervisor in their respective agency is aware of and enforces this standard of conduct. Civility, fair treatment, and mutual respect shall be the standard of conduct expected in state employment. - Robert F. McDonnell, Governor

Know hope.

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