In a letter sent to all of the state’s public colleges and universities, Cuccinelli wrote, “only the General Assembly can extend legal protections to gay state employees — a move the legislature has repeatedly declined to take, including as recently as this week“:
“It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth 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,” he wrote. Colleges that have included such language in their policies — which include all of Virginia’s leading schools — have done so “without proper authority” and should “take appropriate actions to bring their policies in conformance with the law and public policy of Virginia,” Cuccinelli wrote.
It’s incredible that Cuccinelli found time to deal with the growing menace of schools protecting their gay students from discrimination in the midst of the state’s economic woes, and his decision will certainly outrage Virginia students and faculty members across the country. In fact, the practice of protecting gays from violence is so widespread that earlier this month, students at John Carroll University, a Jesuit college in Cleveland Ohio, staged a sit-in to protest “the university’s decisions not to include the protection of sexual orientation of in its anti-discrimination statement.” Other Jesuit universities, like “Canisius College, College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Le Moyne College, and St. Louis University” all include “sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies.” Even conservative schools like Texas Christian University and its divinity school, both protect “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their policies. This almost universal adoption of sexual orientation “as a protected class” suggests that violence against gay people is a problem at college campuses and Cuccinelli’s decision to rescind Virginia’s policies could lead to more crime against homosexuals.
This won’t be Cuccinelli’s first brush with controversy. Last month, Cuccinelli joined Texas and right-wing industry groups in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public.
Cuccinelli’s comments about homosexuality during the election:
My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): “I believe the Attorney General’s advice will hurt the ability of our colleges and universities to attract the very best faculty, staff and students, and damage the Commonwealth’s reputation for academic excellence and diversity.”