Virginia advocates remain concerned Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will thwart efforts to advance LGBT-specific issues in the commonwealth if he becomes the state’s next governor in 2013.
Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish noted in a Nov. 28 statement after Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling said he would not run to succeed Gov. Bob McDonnell that Cuccinelli in 2010 recommended Virginia colleges and universities remove LGBT-specific provisions from their non-discrimination policies. The Virginian-Pilot reported in Oct. 2009 that he described same-sex sexual acts as “wrong.” The newspaper reported Cuccinelli stressed homosexuality “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.”
Cuccinelli was among those who spoke at an anti-gay marriage gathering at a Manassas church in October to which the Washington Blade was denied access.
“We are shocked to see Attorney General Cuccinelli enter this race as a choice for governor with his past statements and actions of bigotry toward the LGBT community,” said Parrish, who further criticized Cuccinelli for what he described as “bullying” the State Boards of Social Services and Juvenile Justice. “We hope to educate Virginians in the coming year so they can make an informed decision in this election.”
Cuccinelli is expected to face former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe once he officially receives his party’s nomination.
Neither men returned the Blade’s request for comment, but Cuccinelli spoke during a Virginia Republican Party “advance” that took place at the Homestead Resort last weekend.
“Virginia once again has an opportunity,” he said. “This is an opportunity to show the country that conservatism isn’t dead; that it’s not old or worn out and that it’s still alive and thriving.”
Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Blade he feels Virginians should expect a Cuccinelli administration to be as “ideologically focused as he is.” He also said he expects more of what he described as “Cuccinelli’s symbolic lawsuits and politically motivated investigations” against those who oppose him and his agenda.
“I find it very scary,” added Hampton Roads Pride Board member Michael Hamar, who cited a Dec. 3 ThinkProgress blog post that categorized Cuccinelli as Virginia’s equivalent to Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, who sparked outrage in August when he suggested to a St. Louis television reporter during his unsuccessful campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that women who suffer a “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant. Hamar also criticized him for his positions on abortion and immigration
“He’s a religious fanatic,” he said. “To have someone who is that anti-gay running for [the] position of governor is frightening.”
State Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) echoed Ebbin and others who said Democrats and progressives should not underestimate Cuccinelli going into the 2013 gubernatorial campaign. He told the Blade on Tuesday he feels the current attorney general would try to thwart a bill he and Ebbin have co-sponsored that would bar discrimination against LGBT state employees if he becomes governor.
“I have no doubts he would attempt an appeal,” said McEachin. “Just as importantly, if we’re not able to pass it this year and we were able to pass it next year, if he were governor he would veto it. He is not receptive to bills of that nature that try to treat all Virginians fairly.”
Hamar further described Cuccinelli as the “Virginia version” of anti-gay former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as he cited his opposition to non-discrimination statutes.
He noted the city of Norfolk last year banned anti-gay discrimination against its municipal employees. Hampton Mayor Molly Ward in October joined the handful of other Virginia mayors who signed onto Freedom to Marry’s “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” campaign.
“Someone like Cuccinelli as governor will do all he can to thwart that kind of thing, certainly if he’s consistent with what he’s done with the universities,” said Hamar. “All of us are very concerned with him being the likely nominee.”