At the invitation of David Lampo of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Northern Virginia, I became one of the signatories to a letter expressing support for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. The letter expressly addresses McDonnell's positions on issues of concern to members of Virginia's gay and lesbian community (or, as the language of the letter has it, "LGBT community").
Here is the text of the letter, which is being released more widely today. (Amy Gardner already has the story on the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog.)
An Open Letter to the GLBT Community about Republican Candidate for Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell
On November 3, Virginians will choose their next governor. While no GLBT person could reasonably see Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for Governor, as a pro-GLBT candidate, we believe that it is important for members of the GLBT community to understand that this campaign and this candidate are fundamentally different from other Republican campaigns and candidates for Governor. The difference is important for us as members of the GLBT community, and, as Republicans, we hope it signals a real commitment to move the Party in the right direction – back toward its historic role as the true guardian of individual liberty.
During this campaign, and particularly during the last few months, McDonnell has repeatedly and without equivocation said that government should not discriminate in employment or services based on sexual orientation. No other Republican candidate for statewide office has ever done that, including his running mates in this election. And in no other statewide election have any two candidates for statewide office from either party sought in debates and other forums to position themselves as people who will seek to govern free from bias against GLBT Virginians.
In September, after the Washington Post released his 20-year-old thesis that included clearly homophobic language, McDonnell told the press, “Sexual orientation never enters into the equation. Government should not punish or discriminate based on anyone’s sexual orientation.”
In a more recent interview, McDonnell told Style Weekly (10/20/09) that
“… everybody ought to be treated equally under the law. I firmly believe that. When I was attorney general there were no inquiries [of employees] that were made other than this: Are you talented, are you qualified, do you care about Virginia, will you get good results? That was my policy as attorney general, it will be my policy as governor. I believe that everybody has equal civil rights in this state. That’s what I will enforce enthusiastically as governor.… Everybody’s got equal rights that need to be protected.”
Given his history and voting record as a member of the House of Delegates, we understand why many are skeptical of his recent statements, but McDonnell’s actions as Attorney General provide a reasoned basis for believing that, if elected, McDonnell will be a Governor with whom the GLBT community can work in seeking to pass laws that will provide assurance that his commitment to nondiscrimination will last beyond his administration.
As Attorney General:• McDonnell supported early on two bills introduced by Democrat Del. David Englin (and subsequently supported by most of the Republicans in the state legislature) that established hospital visitation rights for domestic partners and set up a state registry of advanced medical directives. McDonnell’s endorsement of these bills helped galvanize Republican support, and both bills became law.We are under no illusion that McDonnell is now a champion of gay rights. Nonetheless, his more recent statements and actions give us optimism that McDonnell would offer GLBT people meaningful roles in his administration and the opportunity to work with him to enact laws that will secure for GLBT people the equal rights he has said everybody in Virginia has the right to expect. That is quite different from what we had come to expect from Republican candidates for Governor in past elections, and it is something for which McDonnell should receive due credit from our community.
• McDonnell issued an opinion that found that the state’s so-called marriage amendment would not interfere with contracts, wills, medical directives, and other agreements in the state and “will not modify the application of Virginia’s domestic violence laws” to GLBT couples.
• McDonnell also issued an opinion that allows state employees to designate someone other than a legal spouse to qualify for gym membership benefits, a precedent-setting ruling that provides a legal foundation for extending other state benefits to domestic partners of state employees.David Lampo, Vice President, Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia
Chris Barron, Chairman of the Board, GOProud
Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director, GOProud
Rick Sincere, At-Large Board Member, Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia
Robert G. Atkins, Treasurer, Arlington County Republican Committee
Affiliations are for identification purposes only.
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