Sunday, March 07, 2010

Responding to Cuccinelli

Below is a letter to Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who last week sent a letter to Virginia's colleges and universities informing them that none of their non-discrimination policies that pertain to gays and lesbians would be enforced by his office and that the schools should rescind the portions of policies that refer to gays and lesbians.
I wrote this for the board of People of Faith for Equality Virginia and we are seeking signatures from any Virginia clergy or religious leaders who are willing to sign on. Please use the "comments" to add your name and leadership position.

When I read of your recent recommendations to Virginia’s colleges and universities I thought immediately of the father of our great university system. Thomas Jefferson famously said of other people’s religious orientations that they neither picked his pocket nor broke his bones. I’m sure he would agree that another person’s sex life neither picks my pockets nor breaks my bones.
But when bias against a person's sexual orientation picks their pocket through job discrimination or breaks their bones through gay bashing then it is the responsibility of the state to protect them in every appropriate manner. Hate crimes laws and antidiscrimination laws and policies are long-standing, well-established and proven legal means of affording such protection. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians clearly face discrimination and hate crimes and the fear that accompany them.
Failure to act in the face of that reality is a black eye on the Commonwealth, and on the office you hold. To act in direct contradiction to the reality must have Mr. Jefferson spinning in his grave.
When you know that a woman is threatened on the job because she is female would you not bring the full weight of the law to bear in any resulting legal proceeding? When you know that a family loses their home because they are black would you not prosecute? When you know that a public college or university refuses to register a Christian student group because of its faith-based bylaws would you not pursue the case with vigor?
When a college professor is fired for being lesbian or a young man is beaten and killed because he is gay why would you not do the same?
That is the question your recent letter to Virginia colleges and universities warning them on including sexuality in their nondiscrimination policies raises. When you know that more than 15 percent of all hate crimes are committed against people based on perceived sexual orientation how can you in good conscience block protection of gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students and faculty on Virginia campuses? When you know – and there is overwhelming evidence – that young men are victimized on college campuses because they are gay why do you use your office to enable the victimizers?
You can deny that allegation, but our state’s long history of racial discrimination and violence clearly teaches us that when public officials do not act to protect those who are victimized because of who they are then those who perpetrate such acts are enabled and even encouraged to continue. Failure to use the full weight of your office to protect vulnerable Virginians is wrong. It is immoral. It is an affront to the very One who, self evidently, created us all equal and with certain inalienable rights.
Like Mr. Jefferson with respect to other faiths, you do not have to be gay or lesbian, you do not have to like gays or lesbians, you do not even have to respect them, but you do have a constitutional responsibility to protect them and your recent actions demonstrate clearly that you are failing to live up to the responsibilities and obligations of your job.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it does bend toward justice. I urge you to reconsider your position and stand on the right side of history.
Rev. Dr. David Ensign
Pastor, Clarendon Presbyterian Church, Arlington
For the board of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia


Anonymous said...

David, thank you, for your forthright statement of principle, and especially for grounding it in the rich Virginia history of religious liberty and the historical and continuing struggle for equal rights in our Commonwealth. Sign me on as a supporter. Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline

womynrev said...

Rev. Elizabeth M. Kemper, Consulting Minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun

Thank you, David, for your eloquent letter.

Mary said...

Please add me as a supporter. With thanks.
Rev. Mary McKinnon Ganz
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington

warren said...

I'm glad to suppoort your letter. and proud to be a part of People of Faith for Equality in Virignia.
Warren Hammonds
Baptist, Richmond

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, David, for this outstanding letter. It is an honor to be invited to add my name to this letter as a supporter. Please add me to that list!

Rev. Dr. Cathie Stivers,
Unitarian Universalist Community Minister

Aaron said...

The Future Rev. James Aaron Houghton

Anonymous said...

Please add my name:
Jan Edmiston

Open Door said...

Add me to this, for sure.

Rev. Brian Merritt
Arlington, Virginia

CIndy Bolbach said...

Add my name as well.

Cindy Bolbach, Arlington VA.

reg said...


I am happy to participate.Please add, Rev.Reg C.Richburg,MSW,LSW

Pastor New Life MCC of Hampton Roads

Kharma said...

Thanks for writing such a timely and well-written letter to the AG about this. Please add me gladly as a comrade in agreement.

Rev. Dr. Kharma R. Amos
Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia
Fairfax, VA

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insightful statement. I do not think our institutions of higher learning should discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and Cuccinilli's letter represents a step backward.

Bollin Millner, Jr.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insightful statement. I do not think our institutions of higher learning should discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and Cuccinelli's letter represents a step backward.

Bollin Millner, Jr.
Richmond, Va

Tim said...

David, thanks to you and everyone from People of Faith for Equality Virginia (POFEV) who participated in the lively dialogue this past week about the Governor's Executive order which failed to include sexual orientation, the House Sub-Committee who tabled SB 66 effectively killing it this year and most recently the AG's letter pressuring Virginia's public colleges and universities to comply with an immoral stance and truly a step backwards in our fight for equality for the rights of all members of the Commonwealth.
You have my continue support and I wish my name included as a supporter of this letter to the AG.

With gratitude to you and all the POFEV,

Rev. Tim Agar, Associate Pastor
Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia
Fairfax, VA

Stephen said...


Thanks for articulating a clear and convincing appeal to Attorney General Cuccinelli. Please add my name as a supporter.

Rev. Dr. Stephen C. Booth
Baptist, Richmond, VA

Anonymous said...

I concur.

The Rev. Jeffrey Lang
Minister, Presbyterian Church USA
Presbytery of the James (Virginia)

Anonymous said...

I fully suppport your letter.
Rev. Douglas M. Thorpe, Ph.D.
Center for Pastoral Counseling of Virginia

Janet said...

Wonderful letter, David. Thanks for taking the initiative and giving words to our heartfelt thoughts. Please add me as a supporter.
Rev. Dr. Janet L. Parker
Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ

Carla Pratt Keyes said...

Thank you, David, for this letter.
Carla Pratt Keyes
Ginter Park Presbyterian Church, Richmond, VA

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this letter.

While the pastor of a Baptist church does not speak for the members of his or her congregation, it is my personal conviction that every child of God is precious and deserves equal protection under the law. I would like to think that students at our public institutions would be protected from discrination, no matter what their orientation.

Jim Somerville, Pastor
Richmond's First Baptist Church

Anonymous said...

Rev. Dr. Stephanie Burns
Metropolitan Community Churches