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5 Ways Virginia May Be the Worst State in the Nation

It isn't known for being a bastion of liberalism, but even for a 'purplish' state, Virginia has taken extraordinarily conservative actions recently.

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2. Virginia Is for (Straight) Lovers

Virginia is set to join the ranks of North Dakota in July with the passage of recent legislation that would allow private adoption agencies to "deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs," according to the AP. The language is essentially cover for being able to turn down gay couples who want to adopt.

The AP reports that the state has 1,600 children who are waiting to be adopted. 

Virginia's U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, spoke out against the legislation, which would go into effect this summer. "Republicans in Richmond would rather spend their time defining which families should be allowed to adopt foster children," Warner told the Washington Blade. "Let me tell you this: As the first Virginia governor to ban discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation -- and as a senator who stood up and voted to repeal the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy -- that is mean-spirited, and that is wrong. It is wrong to deny a foster child the opportunity to belong to a supportive, modern family simply because it is led by a same-sex couple in a loving and committed relationship." 

The most recent crop of Republican leaders in Virginia haven't been shy about discriminating against LGBT people. In February 2010, shortly after taking office, Governor McDonnell stripped protections for the state's gay and lesbian workers from Virginia's anti-discrimination policy. TalkingPoints Memo explains

McDonnell (R) on Feb. 5 signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination "on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities," as well as veterans.

It rescinds the order that Gov. Tim Kaine signed Jan. 14, 2006 as one of his first actions. After promising a "fair and inclusive" administration in his inaugural address, Kaine (D) added veterans to the non-discrimination policy - and sexual orientation.

Shortly following McDonnell's action, the state's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told Virginia's colleges and universities that they had no right to keep any policies that protected queer students from discrimination. He wrote, "It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression,' or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly."

Apparently the governor and attorney general think the job of government is to make sure people like state workers and college students feel less safe.

3. Climate Change Witch Hunt

Attorney General Cuccinelli doesn't just hate gay people, he also seems to hate science. Cuccinelli launched a two-year witch hunt against former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann. The Union of Concerned Scientists posted a detailed timeline of the harassment. In 2010 Rick Piltz at Climate Science Watch wrote:

Virginia's combative right-wing state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has issued a "Civil Investigative Demand" calling on the University of Virginia to turn over a large quantity of material about climate scientist Michael Mann, who was at the University during 1999-2005. Among the documents he is demanding are all e-mail and other communications to or from Mann and 39 other scientists, or referencing them. This latest McCarthyite inquisition, by yet another agent of the global warming denial machine, is taking fire even from climate 'skeptics' who are no friends of Mann. It sends a chilling message about academic freedom and the freedom of scientists and others to communicate with each other without fear that their communications will be published.

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