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Virginia students mobilize against AG’s call to dismiss gay protections; Assembly effort fails

Virginia students mobilize against AG’s call to dismiss gay protections; Assembly effort fails

Students across Virginia put spring break on hold this week to mobilize against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has riled student groups with a letter advising public universities to retreat from their policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

More than 5,000 people have joined the Facebook page “We Don’t Want Discrimination In Our State Universities And Colleges!” and nearly 1,000 joined another, started by activists at the College of William and Mary.

The University of Virginia group Queer & Allied Activism urged students to protest on Cuccinelli’s Facebook page and on Twitter.

Last week, in a letter to Virginia’s public universities, Cuccinelli said they could not adopt policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation “absent specific authorization from the General Assembly.”

All of Virginia’s largest state schools have adopted anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) indicated Monday that he might sign legislation extending legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation if it were to pass the General Assembly.

“I’d consider it,” he said. “I’d have to look at the legal arguments for it.”

But the GOP-led House of Delegates has declined twice this year to act on similar proposals.


On Tuesday, a Northern Virginia delegate unsuccessfully tried a parliamentary maneuver to force a floor vote on a measure that would ban discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation.

Del. Ken Plum (D), moved to revive the gay-rights bill that had languished in a House subcommittee, saying the legislature must respond to Cuccinelli’s recent missive.

The House voted against floor consideration of the bill 55 to 42.

Read Cuccinelli’s letter here (pdf).

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