The Virginia Tourism Corporation, which controls the "Virginia is for Lovers" tourism site, has recently started a new promotion aimed at attracting "LGBT" vacationers to spend their dollars in Virginia. This site, pushed by Governor Terry McAuliffe and prominently displays a picture of the governor marrying a lesbian couple, is just another example of how our culture is in decay and why we need to continue to fight back.   

Saying that "Our LOVE story is bigger, better, and more inclusive than ever before," the new campaign "promotes businesses and hosts who self identify as 'LGBT' friendly." Though that may sound all well and good on its face, the potential implications are very troubling.  This new system for listing businesses who self-identify with the Virginia Tourism Corporation as "LGBT-friendly" could easily pave the way for stigmatizing every business who does not affirmatively self-identify as pro-gay. While on the surface appearing like a basic free-market idea where businesses are free to advertise as being "gay friendly", this "advertisement" scheme is stripped of its free-market nature because the government itself holds the keys to the roster. At the end of the day, it will be overwhelmingly faith-based business owners who are hurt. Sooner or later, someone is going to question why they have not "voluntarily" added their business to the list. 

If you don't think businesses and business owners who believe in traditional values won't be stigmatized or targeted, look no further than Melissa and Aaron Klein, who were forced to pay over $136,000 in fines by the state of Oregon because they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, citing their religious belief in traditional marriage. And in Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop was fined and the owners were told that, "they cannot refuse to prepare wedding cakes for gay couples, saying the refusal violated the state's public accommodation law that requires businesses to serve customers regardless of their sexual orientation."

And if you think that this new ad campaign is just a publicity stunt,  tourism corporation spokeswoman Caroline Logan clearly stated that the push for LGBT tourism "... is going to be fully integrated in all our marketing, from top to bottom, this will be going on forever as far as we're concerned." The Virginia Tourism Corporation website now promotes the economic impact that the LGBT community can have on Virginia, provides a resource guide for attracting LGBT business, and is willing to help "LGBT-friendly" businesses get a taxpayer supported leg up on businesses owned by individuals with traditional values by helping with marketing efforts to attract more business.  

At a minimum, our taxpayer dollars should not be promoting "LGBT" initiatives through Virginia's tourism. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth should leave the designations for how "friendly" businesses are to the free market, rather than attempting to facilitate back-door schemes to pick winners and losers. Instead, it should get back to the business of carrying out one of its most important tasks: protecting the conscience rights of all Virginians.