Routing in Richmond

Anti-gay bill triggers response ahead of Equality Virginia's lobby day

by Yusef Najafi
Published on December 29, 2010, 11:02pm | Comments

Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R-Loudon, Prince William) stirred up controversy last week with his response to the repeal of ''Don't Ask Don't'' when he announced his plan to draft legislation preventing gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard.

Del. Joseph Morrissey
Del. Joseph Morrissey

While gay Virginians and allies can take comfort in Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) opposition, in that such a law would conflict with rules of the Federal National Guard, momentum is marshaling further counter action.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, for example, has stated that it would file a lawsuit if the bill were to become law.

And this week, Virginia Del. Joseph Morrissey (D-Charles City, Henrico, Prince George) told Metro Weekly that he is in the midst of drafting legislation to keep the composition of the Virginia National Guard consistent with the laws and regulations implemented by the Department of Defense, in response to Marshall.

''My bill wouldn't be necessary if Bob Marshall hadn't come up with his bill,' Morrissey said. ''I'm absolutely confident that Bob Marshall's bill will not become law. I am further confident that if somehow, someway it made past the state Senate and the governor – the governor has certainly said he's diametrically opposed to it – that upon challenge it would be deemed unconstitutional.''

Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington, Fairfax), Virginia's only openly gay delegate, describes Marshall's bill as an ''embarrassment to Virginia.''

''I believe that it won't advance past the committee in the House of Delegates,'' Ebbin said Tuesday, Dec. 28. ''It will probably be buried if it's heard at all.''

Claire Gastañaga, general counsel and legislative counsel at Equality Virginia, says that her LGBT-advocacy group's Jan. 19 lobby day at the Capitol will not be sidetracked by Marshall.

''We're going to continue to work to ensure that all public employees are protected from discrimination on the job based on sexual orientation or identity,'' she said, referring to McDonnell's redrafting of the antidiscrimination policy for state employees, specifically removing ''sexual orientation'' as a protected class.

''We will be doing proactive things,'' she said. ''And also watching to make sure Mr. Marshall's proposal doesn't go anywhere.''

For more information about Equality Virginia or Lobby Day 2011, visit equalityvirginia.org.