So many prejudiced people and organizations in our country, and so little time to keep track of them.
Last week, Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) sent a letter to state universities telling them that their policies barring discrimination against gays and lesbians are not authorized by state law and must be rescinded.
Supporters of Legislative Bill SB66 introduced by Sen. Donald McEachin (D), which would prohibit discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation, failed to pass the Republican-controlled House.
"Ken Cuccinelli wants to hang a sign in front of the public colleges and universities of this commonwealth that reads 'Gays need not apply,'" said Del. David Englin of Alexandria.
Many lawmakers argued on the floor of the House of Delegates that Virginia's failure to protect gays and lesbians against discrimination is an embarrassment to the state, and could hinder much needed economic development. Others believe they’re fearful because of the recent gay marriage legislation passed in Washington, D.C.
Sean Holihan, President of the Virginia Young Democrats, released a statement via YouTube, Facebook, the Blue Commonwealth Community Blog, and on the Virginia Young Democrat’s homepage saying, "There are so many things wrong with this, so many reasons to be angry. You might be angry that while our Universities' budgets have been gutted, Ken Cuccinelli is now trying to meddle in their hiring and admission processes. Perhaps you are angry because you don't care who your college professor loves, you just want a good education. Or, perhaps you're outraged because you don't think your sexual orientation should ever come into account when you're applying for admission to the College of William and Mary, UVA, or Virginia Tech. Whatever the reason, we are outraged with you. We are outraged by the decision to put personal prejudice ahead of good policy."
In another horrific action, Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist in Kansas, a traveling hate group which claims to be Christian, has targeted March 19th to demonstrate at Lake Tahoe Community College. The school has attracted Phelps' attention because they're presenting “The Laramie Project,” the 1998 play by Moises Kaufman about the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was brutally beaten by two young men, tied to a fence and left to die. The play will run March 12 - 20 at the college.
Phelps, who said he hates gays and all who support gays, demonstrates all across the nation, and has a travel budget of about $200,000. The church says on its website that it plans to be at the college to protest the play, that “God hates... Lake Tahoe," and calls Shepard’s murder “trivial and irrelevant.”
LTCC's new Director of Theater, Susan Boulanger, said, “You don’t think that stuff like [this] is possible. More and more people across the country have become familiar with Fred Phelps and his organization because they have in recent years begun demonstrating at the funerals of dead soldiers and rejoicing in the fact that they have died because their view is 'God hates America and that’s why there is this war and God’s wrath is on you.'” The church claims to have demonstrated 42,821 times since 1991.
A fight is exactly what Phelps' group wants, says LTCC President Paul Killpatrick. “I look at everything as being a teachable moment,” he said. “I think this is a teachable moment and what better place to have it than a college?”
President Barack Obama recently signed into federal law the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate crime bill. This bill will help law enforcement prosecute hate crimes at a state level.