Newspaper Editor Tells F.C. Council: ‘You Are in Cuccinelli’s Cross Hairs”

Because of its use of language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, the City of Falls Church is “in Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s cross hairs,” Falls Church News-Press editor Nicholas F. Benton told the F.C. City Council in a public statement at the Council’s business meeting tonight.

Benton urged the Council to take action to condemn the “unprovoked, inflamatory act of bigotry” by Cuccinelli in the form of a letter to Virginia’s state colleges and universities last week advising them to remove any policy language protecting the rights of lesbians and gays.

Benton’s comments were later echoed by F.C. Councilman Lawrence Webb. Following that, Mayor Robin Gardner urged that a statement on the subject be drafted for a vote at the next Council meeting.

The following is the text of Benton’s statement to the Council, which he said he will also present to the board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce at its business meeting tomorrow morning:

“The unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry by the new Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last week, in the form of a letter advising Virginia colleges and universities to remove language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, takes away existing protections from an embattled minority, and represents a profound threat to the Commonwealth in a number of important ways.

“First, it represents an effort to remove protections that currently exist for a minority that is well-known for its susceptibility to discrimination, hate and violent attacks, from elementary school playgrounds through adulthood.

“Second, it represents a major blow to Virginia’s economic development efforts, including it is effort to secure the relocation of major corporations like Northrup-Grumman and other large business entities, because of the chilling effect Cuccinelli’s action will have on the desire and willingness of those businesses and their employees to locate to the state.

“Third, it undermines the efforts of communities throughout the Commonwealth to foster a climate of friendship and concord in their populations by the public encouragement and embrace of diversity and affirmation of the equal rights of all their citizens.

“Fourth, it fuels a climate of intimidation and hate against minorities of all types in the state in a time when mouthpieces of the far right are causing such negative trends to grow, empowering bigots with a sense of entitlement to act out their hatred with impunity.

“I urge every fair-minded citizen, every civil libertarian, every elected official of any party, and every proponent of economic growth in Virginia, every advocate of civility, to go on record in strong opposition to the Attorney General’s incendiary action and to affirm that every Virginian enjoys equal protection under the law.

“Wherever public resolutions or pronouncements can be enacted to this end by local jurisdictions, political action or religious groups, or business or other organizations, I urge this to be done with the sense of clarity and urgency it deserves.”