Barry Knight

House Sub-Committee Defeats "Discrimination" Bill

Late yesterday a House General Laws sub-committee defeated legislation (SB 701) that would have elevated sexual behavior to a protected class in the state’s hiring laws. The sub-committee voted down the measure by a vote of 5-1. The patron, Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond), has carried similar legislation for many years. Several people testified in favor of the measure, some from Virginia's universities, such as VCU and William and Mary. All claimed a "climate of fear," believing that they can be fired for their sexual behavior. But no one, again this year, could present a single case of anyone who has actually been discriminated against. Statistics from the state show that there have been no confirmed cases of discrimination based on sexual behavior or "orientation."

That point was made by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), a long-time member of the sub-committee. He stated that he has asked proponents to present actual evidence of discrimination, but no one has presented any such evidence, nor did they this year. He made the motion to defeat the bill.

Proponents also argued that Virginia is "losing talent" because we haven't elevated sexual behavior to a protected class. However, Virginia annually is recognized as one of the best managed states in the nation and a state with an exceptional business climate. Unfortunately, if people have a fear of being discriminated against, it comes from the rhetoric and fear-mongering of proponents of this legislation, and not from actual discrimination.

Should sexual behavior be elevated to protected status, the next steps no doubt will be to discriminate against faith-based organizations that partner with the state on assisting the needy, providing adoption services, and a host of other ministries, simply because they may have a viewpoint of human sexuality that runs counter to proponents of this measure. We hear a lot of contrivance around hear about the unleashed horrors of "unintended consequences" certain bills may allow. But the intended consequences of this bill to religious liberty, if ever passed, are frightening.

Others on the sub-committee who voted to defeat the bill were Delegates Chris Peace (R-97, Hanover), Barry Knight (R-81, Virginia Beach), John Cox (R-55, Ashland) and Peter Farrell (R-56, Henrico).

Are The Tea Leaves Looking That Bad For The GOP?

Maybe not. If you haven't heard by now, the House didn't disappoint today with its traditional first day fireworks over matters that usually are nothing more than housekeeping. At issue was whether to seat a new delegate in what was an unusually close special election last night in the 46th district to replace Democrat Brian Moran, who resigned recently to run full time for governor. Unusually close because this district is all but two precincts in Alexandria and is one of the most reliably liberal districts in the commonwealth. This should have been a slam dunk for Democrat Charniele Herring over Republican Joe Murray, but she won by just 16 votes out of about 2,700. Until the automatic recount, House Republicans took the prudent measure, as we see in Congress every two years, of waiting until all is official and challenges exhausted.

(On a side note, what does this say about Moran's coattails, especially when Democrat gubernatorial rival Terry McAuliffe is promising to raise $75 million for the joint Dem statewide/House campaigns? Terry Mac's fundraising prowess combined with his lack of office to restrict what he raises during the G.A. is what spooked Moran to leave the House prematurely to begin with.)

This scarily narrow win in the People's Republic of Alexandria, combined with a special election in heavily African-American Richmond, where new mayor and former delegate Dwight Jones' handpicked successor Delores McQuinn won against a stealth write-in Republican candidate with only 63 percent of the vote, and a Republican blowout by Barry Knight (83 percent of the vote) in a Virginia Beach special to replace retired former delegate Terry Suit, where the Dems had hoped to at least run close, all point to a glimmer of hope that the House GOP has mobilized its grassroots.

We don't know that tea leaves can read deep into the soil, or if any of this pertains to anything come fall '09. But if ever a caucus needed a boost, even from a surprisingly close loss, this may have been it.