Imagine, if you will, an alternate reality version of our beautiful commonwealth. A bizarro Virginia where Ken Cuccinelli won the governorship in 2013, and E.W. “Yoga is a tool of Satan” Jackson was elected lieutenant governor. Now imagine that this dynamic duo were in charge when Senate Bill 41, which would exempt religious organizations from any liability if they chose to discriminate against same-sex couples, hit the governor’s desk.
Is there any doubt that a Governor Cuccinelli would not only sign such a bill, but hold it up as a model for even more discriminatory “religious freedom” legislation? And that Lieutenant Governor Jackson, adding to his long history of outlandish and offensive statements, would be all over the airwaves, yammering on about the “homosexual agenda” and insisting that a “sincerely held religious belief” should allow all manner of discrimination?
Well, sadly, you don’t need to look very far to see this alternate reality in action. Just over our southern border, in the great state of North Carolina, the ugly repercussions of such legislative action are playing out, and the results are sobering, to say the least. Under the thoroughly misguided leadership of Governor Pat McCrory, the Tar Heel State recently rushed through a law that bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to LGBT individuals, while also making it a crime for transgender people to use a bathroom that doesn’t match their biological gender.
This is just the latest in a flurry of similarly discriminatory state laws, but its broad and incoherent provisions (including that basically unenforceable bathroom mandate) have caused a backlash that we imagine Governor McCrory (never the sharpest tool in the shed) did not see coming. Not only have multiple states instituted travel boycotts for government employees, but a large number of companies, including PayPal and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, have announced that they are reconsidering sizable business investments in the state due to the law, and Bruce Springsteen recently canceled a show in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Now, we will be the first to admit that our own illustrious Governor Terry McAuliffe is far from perfect. (We were particularly cheesed off by the way he undercut Attorney General Mark Herring by summarily reversing a ruling that would have enforced Virginia’s laws on concealed handguns for all visitors to the state.) But his recent vetoes of a number of terrible bills produced during the winter legislative session—including the odious Senate Bill 41—once again demonstrated that Virginia’s voters made the right choice in the last election.
As for North Carolina…well, it pains us to say it, as we have great affection for the state, but the current political leadership deserves all the pain and misery it is currently receiving. We can only hope the majority of voters agree, and throw Governor McCrory out on his ear in the next election.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s column was written before Governor McCrory signed an executive order April 12.
Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, twice-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics.