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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 17 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 03
Terry McAuliffe re-bans anti-Gay discrimination
Section One
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Terry McAuliffe re-bans anti-Gay discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Only hours after being sworn in as Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT Virginians.

'By virtue of the authority vested in me as governor, I hereby declare that it is the firm and unwavering policy of the commonwealth of Virginia to assure equal opportunity in all facets of state government,' the order, issued January 11, said.

'The foundational tenet of this executive order is premised upon a steadfast commitment to foster a culture of inclusion, diversity and mutual respect for all Virginians.'

McAuliffe's predecessor, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, refused to issue a similar order when he assumed office, but prior Democratic governors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner - now Virginia's U.S. Senators - also signed nondiscrimination orders.

For the first time in Virginia's history, gender identity and expression join sexual orientation among the prohibited bases for discrimination.

'My administration is committed to keeping Virginia open and welcoming to all who call our commonwealth home,' said McAuliffe after signing the directive.

'Executive Order Number 1 sets the tone for an administration that will not accept discrimination in any form, and one that will work tirelessly to ensure all Virginians have equal opportunity in the workplace, no matter their backgrounds, race, religion, or whom they love.'

A former Democratic National Committee chair and ally of the Clintons, McAuliffe made LGBT rights one of his signature campaign issues against Republican candidate and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

In contrast, Cuccinelli used his last hours in office to issue a parting anti-Gay opinion.

'[A] Governor may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns,' Cuccinelli wrote in a statement dated January 10.

The opinion is non-binding, however, and Cuccinelli's successor, Democrat Mark Herring, was sworn in on January 11 along with McAuliffe.

His inauguration took place against the backdrop of two federal lawsuits challenging Virginia's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. It is not clear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend the ban that Virginia voters approved in 2006 by a 57%-43% margin.

Just after signing the nondiscrimination order, McAuliffe also signed an executive order that prohibits gifts of more than $100 to himself, his family, and statewide officials and their families. McDonnell left office under a cloud of scandal when it was revealed that he, his wife, and their children accepted expensive gifts from a businessman seeking state contracts.

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