federal hate crimes laws

Policy Issue 4, Defending Values: Special Rights For Homosexuals

This is the fourth in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. The third, regarding constitutional government, can be found here. Each statement covers one of The Family Foundation’s five areas of principle. We will post the fifth issue by early next week.

As with every General Assembly session, the usual suspects will show up promoting legislation that The Family Foundation believes would be harmful to the family or to the values that we share. Of particular note this year, there again are several bills that attempt to extend special rights to homosexuals based on their lifestyle choice.

In the aftermath of Congress passing and President Obama signing legislation that added sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws, there is legislation that would do the same in Virginia. As we argued against the federal extension, this is a solution in search of a problem. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that crimes against homosexuals are not being prosecuted, which was the original point of hate crimes statues.

There also is an effort to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws, both for state government and localities’ hiring practices. This annual attempt at "gotcha politics" is of course intended to make anyone who opposes it appear discriminatory. Elected officials often are quizzed on whether or not they discriminate against homosexuals as if that should be a question on the employment application. Unfortunately for proponents, one of their biggest allies — The Washington Post — admitted in an editorial recently that there are "thousands of gays in state government." There is absolutely no need for this legislation and no evidence of any discrimination given the lack of claims from these thousands.

Also this year, there are additional attempts at expanding so-called domestic partner benefits. Several years ago, despite our warning that such a change would open a floodgate, the General Assembly passed legislation that allowed some businesses to contract with health insurance companies to grant benefits outside of the longstanding standards of "blood, marriage or adoption." Those standards were always intended to encourage and support marriages and families. Since then, there have been several attempts at expanding this loophole to life insurance, and there will be new attempts this year as well. Already, we’ve seen outgoing Governor Tim Kaine’s blatant political attempt to change state regulations in this area, knowing that the final decision maker will be Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. Unfortunately, in the General Assembly, when the principles of families and business compete, the family is often the loser.

Finally, in what will likely amount to a waste of everyone’s time, there is legislation seeking to repeal the Marriage Amendment passed by the voters in 2006. This bill will be introduced despite the fact that more 30 states now have marriage amendments and three statewide candidates that supported the Virginia Marriage Amendment won landslide elections in November.

We will be ever vigilant watching for other legislation that undermines our values and impacts our families. We will be at the capitol every day during session advocating on your behalf and against harmful legislation, and chronically it all here.