Pro-LGBT Tech Executives Back Anti-LGBT Candidate For Virginia Governor

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"Pro-LGBT Tech Executives Back Anti-LGBT Candidate For Virginia Governor"

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R-VA)

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R-VA)

The Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political action committee confirmed Monday that it had voted to endorse Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) to be Virginia’s next governor, taking him at his word that he would not pursue the far-right social agenda that has been the hallmark of his political career. But many of the 25 technology company executives that gave the anti-LGBT activist Cuccinelli a majority vote represent companies that have deliberately marketed themselves as inclusive corporations — including Facebook, Microsoft, and Nothrop Grumman.

TechPAC, the political arm of the membership and trade association for the technology community in Northern Virginia, says that it “supports the interests of the technology industry in Richmond and the future viability of our businesses.” In its announcement of the endorsement, the committee’s chairman said that it decided Cuccinelli’s “experience in Virginia government, command of the issues, and knowledge of key technology priorities” would help him “ensure the Commonwealth remains a competitive and innovative global technology center.”

The statement claimed that while the PAC believes a “divisive social agenda” would “seriously hurt the appeal of Virginia as a place to locate and grow businesses,” the board endorsed Cuccinelli anyway because he “assured TechPAC Trustees during the interview process that his administration will focus on jobs and the economy,” and not on right-wing social policies.

Nothing in Cuccinelli’s record would suggest that he would put his anti-LGBT policy agenda on the back burner. Over his seven-and-a-half years as a state senator and his four year as attorney general, Cuccinelli earned a reputation as Virginia’s Todd Akin — opposing even the most basic legal protections for LGBT people. He actively pushed for state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent any legal recognition of what he terms, “what they’d like to refer to as ‘homosexual families,’” authoring a resolution calling for a federal amendment to invalidate any same-sex marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or “other relationship analogous to marriage.” He has opined that “giving public sanction to homosexual marriage ends up redefining marriage and it’s certain to harm children.” He even opposed a state bill that allowed private companies to voluntarily provide health insurance benefits to employees’ domestic partners, warning it might “encourage this type of behavior.” His advisory opinion that Virginia’s public colleges and universities should rescind their nondiscrimination policies was called “reprehensible” by a former Republican state legislator. His reasoning, he once explained: “When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.” Because he believes “homosexual acts are wrong,” he helped defeat a bill to bring Virginia’s sodomy law into compliance with a Supreme Court ruling, believing “in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that.”

Far from abandoning his anti-LGBT crusade in his gubernatorial campaign, he has doubled-down on it. On his campaign website, his “family values” section boasts, “I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. An overwhelming majority of Virginians voted in 2006 to include the definition of traditional marriage in Virginia’s constitution. As Attorney General, I have defended our constitution, and I will continue to do so if elected Governor.” Asked in a July debate if he still believes LGBT people to be “soulless,” Cuccinelli reaffirmed that his “personal beliefs about the personal challenges of homosexuality haven’t changed.” And after his own actions to keep Virginian’s unconstitutional felony ban on consensual adult oral sex, he has campaigned on his legal attempts to restore the ban.

Cuccinelli’s 2010 efforts to rescind LGBT protections for public employees nearly cost the state a bid to get Northrop Grumman to locate its headquarters in Virginia. Ironically, Matt McQueen, Corporate Director of Government Relations for Northrop Grumman Corporation, is one of the TechPAC officers. Like Northrop Grumman, several of the other companies represented on the board have actively marketed themselves as inclusive workplaces — including AOL, Comcast, Cox, Intuit, Microsoft, Oracle, and others.

ThinkProgress reached out to all 25 members of the panel to ask whether each had voted for the endorsements and whether they shared Cuccinelli’s anti-LGBT views. Several responded referring questions to the PAC chair, who offered no comment beyond the official press release. One member noted that the members have been asked not to comment on the endorsement process.

The larger Northern Virginia Technology Council released its own statement Monday noting that as the TechPAC endorsement “may not in itself reflect the views of NVTC’s membership,” in light of a deeply divided membership, it would make no endorsement in the gubernatorial election.

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A spokeswoman for Facebook told ThinkProgress that it’s director of state and local public policy, Will Castleberry, was not at the endorsement interviews and did not vote. S. Bradford Antle, President and CEO, told ThinkProgress that he too was absent from the endorsement meeting.

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