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Just to be clear about this before I start: I was appalled that Bob McDonnell could be elected governor of Virginia and absolutely horrified the Ken Cuccinelli was elected attorney general. In fact, I can’t even remember who else ran for attorney general — all I know is that I voted for the candidate who was not Ken Cuccinelli. As a current Northern Virginia resident who also happened to attend college in the state lo these many years ago, I’m mortified that Cuccinelli has wasted little time exercising his anti-gay bias by asking Virginia’s public colleges and universities to end their anti-discrimination policies for LGBT staff and students.
So, I’m horrified, most reasonable people are at least perplexed, and Virginia is once again looking foolish on the national stage. On one level, I’m outraged and, like Equality Virginia, want Gov. McDonnell to step in and support an employment discrimination bill (the lack of which he claims makes Cuccinelli’s ”request” appropriate).
Then again, I’m not so sure I want him to.
Don’t forget, McDonnell went out of his way to run a smiling-face, moderate-middle campaign — despite his long ties to Pat Robertson and not-so-long-ago writings about the evils of homosexuality and other social conservative hobby horses. That impression helped get him elected (as did, to be sure, an inept Democratic campaign). Cuccinelli was openly anti-gay during the campaign, but apparently those middle-of-the-road voters were willing to take a chance.
Long point short, on some level we should want them to show the full crazy on gay issues that we know they believe. We’ve certainly spent time warning everyone that McDonnell was not moderate, that he was beholden to the Pat Robertson school of religion that believes natural disasters are the result of God’s fits of pique. Given that we’ve warned everyone what would happen if they elected this dynamic duo, don’t we need them to do exactly what we said they were going to do?
I say that not because I want LGBT Virginians to suffer. I say it because I want the old guard, homophobic Republicans of Virginia to suffer. These guys are political maniacs who, to a large extent, are confined to state legislative districts. Having some of their own boys in charge as the governor and attorney general is a chance to highlight exactly how retrograde their attitudes are.
If you want to get rid of them, you have to encourage their worst behavior.
I believe that most people — particularly those in the ever-growing Northern Virginia area, but people in the state beyond as well — are not hardcore bigots and homophobes. Of those people who are willing to vote either Democrat or Republican depending on issues and context, I believe most don’t care much for the aggressive anti-gay tactics of the far right (hence McDonnell’s carefully centrist, ”I’m from NoVa” campaign last fall).
I also believe that McDonnell and, especially, Cuccinelli, have deep-rooted animus towards LGBT people — towards me, my husband and my family. We should all protest and campaign and lobby to combat them. But, in the end, I don’t want them to hide it — I want them to own it and pursue it. Sooner, rather than later, it will make it easier to hold them, and their party, accountable.
All that said, looking back on the debacle that was the Democratic primary and general campaign for the governorship, I still wouldn’t have voted for Terry McAuliffe. Note to Democrats: Better candidates next time, please.