Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into effect Executive Order 6 Feb. 5. Virginia, like all states, has anti-discrimination laws. Exec. Order 6 is one such law. It provides protection from discrimination on the basis of “race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities.”
Two words separate the order from former Gov. Tim Kaine’s law: sexual orientation. Exec. Order 6 effectively legalizes discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginia state workers.
This law is a blatant violation of human rights. McDonnell said on his campaign tour that, although he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he believes that “discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or marital status has no place in government or on the job.” Exec. Order 6 has brought sexual orientation into the workplace, and it has opened the door to discrimination. It is legal for an employer to ask someone his or her sexual orientation, and if that employer does not like the answer, there is no law protecting that applicant from being refused a job.
Not only can people be refused jobs, but they could also be fired should their sexual orientation become known in the work place. Gays, lesbians and other people with non-traditional sexual orientations should be able to make the decisions regarding if, when and how they come out to their coworkers, and a law that makes sexual orientation a factor in getting a job is discrimination.
When I learned about the civil rights movement of the 1960s in high school, my classmates and I always asked the same question: how did people allow such injustice to occur? This is not the 1960s; how could something so clearly unconstitutional be signed into law in 2010?
This is unjust. Virginians did not vote on this executive order. This was the action of one man, and his actions could hurt Virginia citizens who deserve the same protection from prejudice as everyone else.
This is not a matter of gay rights; this is a matter of human rights. As Virginia residents we are obligated to fight against this law and tell our governor that this behavior is unacceptable. We should be moving away from prejudice, not toward it. This is the 21st century. People should not be afraid to speak their minds.
If you find Exec. Order 6 unfair and unconstitutional, write to McDonnell’s office and tell him what you think.
E-mail Kaitlyn Armstrong at [email protected]