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Gay rights enter debate over Northrop Grumman's headquarters pick
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Gay rights enter debate over Northrop Grumman's headquarters pick

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Gay advocates and legislators are attempting to discourage Gay-friendly defense Contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. from relocating its headquarters to Virginia, due to the state's lack of protections for Gay and Lesbian workers.

On February 25, Gay rights group Equality Virginia obtained a letter from a Maryland senator asking Northrop Grumman Corp.'s chief executive to locate the company's corporate headquarters in Maryland rather than Virginia.

Maryland forbids employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, however, it does not have specific statutory language against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Northrop Grumman has been praised by Gay rights supporters for its treatment of employees. The aerospace and defense firm announced last month it plans to relocate its headquarters from Los Angeles, California to the Washington, D.C. area.

The request, penned by openly Gay Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno Jr., contrasted his state's tolerant policies with what he said were recent actions in Virginia "dismantling the few protections" afforded to Gays and Lesbians.

Copies of the letter were distributed on March 1 at a news conference held in support of Virginia Senator Donald McEachin's legislation, Senate bill SB66, which would establish a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation as a protected class.

"It's the right thing to do and the right time to do it," McEachin told reporters at the press conference.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C. have worker protection policies that address sexual orientation - Washington state was the third state in the union to establish employment nondiscrimination for Gays and Lesbians.

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