Since 1969, Virginia's tourism slogan has been "Virginia is for Lovers." With the recent hostile and bigoted actions by its governor and attorney general, the bumpers stickers have to be changed to "Virginia is for Haters." Rarely have we ever seen such a systematic effort to re-establish discrimination against the LGBT community as official policy since the Republicans took over Virginia in the last election.
If the new generation of activists created by Proposition 8 ever needed a target, this is it.
First, the great new white hope of the Virginia Republican party, Governor Bob McDonnell, immediately repealed all protections for LGBT workers in the state government. Basically, with this repeal, he has made clear it is entirely appropriate to fire LGBT people from their state jobs. Not to be out done by the governor's campaign of hate, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has sent a letter to all state colleges and universities ordering them to rescind their non-discrimination protections for LGBT employees and students on the state's campuses. Don't be surprised if we see an effort in the state legislature to create a "Solomon" type amendment cutting off funds to any state educational institution that continues protecting the civil rights of the LGBT community.
Now for you young activists out there and yes, us old ones, if we allow this to happen without massive protests then surely we deserve the treatment of second class citizens. How in the world can we allow discrimination in our higher education institutions to once again become a way of life? People took jobs and moved families to teach at these institutions in order to live a free and open life only to see those protections stripped away. This a huge step backward for any state but for one that is just outside our nation's capital is just plain unacceptable.
What to do?
- -Our legal teams must immediately work with such institutions as the University of Virginia and other to take legal action against the Attorney General's actions.
- -Alumni from any Virginia higher public education institution should mobilize and take action.
- -Massive protests must take place at any university that rolls back those protections.
- -Our best organizers from around the country must descend on Virginia and create the 'civil rights' movement that they have so energetically been proposing. They should even consider a 'one day strike' by students on Virginia campuses to protest the rules.
- -A massive march on Richmond with our national organizations giving us their best and brightest to make this one a huge success. We should bring tens of thousands to Richmond to protest.
- -Our brothers and sisters in the Log Cabin Republicans should organize a statement from other Republicans condemning these actions.
- -Religious leaders across the state should sign a "State of Conscience" saying despite any personal views not protecting the civil rights of LGBT citizens is morally wrong.
- -A National Statement of Conscience by our leading Nobel Prize winners, educators and professors should be created and signed by thousands urging people to avoid accepting offers to teach in Virginia.
- -A National Statement of Conscience by Student Leaders from around the country should be signed urging students not to apply to Virginia schools until the policy is changed.
- -The East Coast major cities such as Boston, Washington, DC, Baltimore and New York must mobilize resources, money and volunteers to help in such a "Virginia Campaign."
- -Demand that Congress pass ENDA immediately to offer those who teach in Virginia protections and dignity that any citizen of this nation should have.
The governor and attorney general think they can revoke our rights without paying a price. They hope to step on our backs and take away our freedom for their personal political careers. If we allow them to proceed without disruption, paying no price for such actions and continuing with business as usual, then we can expect others to follow in their footsteps and we should get ready to find enjoyment in being second class citizens.
Proposition 8 generation - you wanted to know what you can do? Well, now it is staring you right in the face in the home state of Thomas Jefferson!