02/01/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
An executive order is easily overturned by an order from the person who replaces the person who signed the order. It is not law, and does not have the force of law. Much to the Family Research Council‘s chagrin, the Virginia Senate General Laws committee approved a bill which would add sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination policy. This move is supported by Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican. According to the FRC “While no one endorses discrimination of any type, there is absolutely no need for this proposal. In fact, according to the Washington Post, there are “thousands of homosexuals” working in state government.” Of course, this creates an impression that the Family Research Council, which has been vocally against LGBT Americans, is not actually in favor of discrimination while, at the same time, calling for them to not be protected by the law so that others can discriminate against them.
“In addition, this legislation will open the Commonwealth of Virginia to costly litigation by people who fail to qualify for employment but sue the state based on this proposal.” The reality is that businesses and states with this kind of non-discrimination policy or law have not been opened up to any great flood of litigation, and the executive orders which were already put into place by Governor McDonnell’s predecessors would have already resulted in litigation if it was going to happen. Instead, the FRC finally embeds their real reason for wanting to see this law voted down soon after that statement. They are worried that by passing this particular bill, Virginia will begin to work towards having non-discrimination laws covering private businesses.
“The bill is also impractical. To protect themselves against litigation state agencies would have to begin asking job applicants about their sexuality, a clear invasion of privacy. State employment applications would have to be changed to include boxes to check for one’s sexual orientation, ‘actual or perceived,’ gender identity or expression.” It is unlikely that this would happen. Certainly no state that already has laws regarding non-discrimination regarding sexual orientation or gender identity have had to undertake such a ridiculous set of questions.
The reality of what the FRC is proposing is towards the end of their special bulletin. “Elevating sexual orientation to a protected class, despite the fact that homosexuality is not immutable, would create an entirely new level of protection — protection based on one’s sexual behavior.” Of course, one could point out that the majority of the studies regarding sexuality have shown that sexual orientation is fairly fixed and cannot be ‘cured’, or that religion is certainly not immutable and many people change their religious identification over their life, but somehow, it is unlikely that the FRC would actually listen to the reality. Instead, Virginian’s Legislature should just go ahead and pass this law so that future governors do not have to waste their time down the road signing yet another executive order.