|Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are vying right now to be the site of a new corporate headquarters for defense giant Northrup Grumman. A Maryland state senator has asked Northrop Grumman to reject Virginia as a location because of the Commonwealth's position on state protections for gay employees.
According to the Washington Post, Maryland State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) in a letter to the CEO of Northrup argued his state's stand on gay rights better mirrors the company's own longstanding commitment to its gay and lesbian employees.
"Here in Maryland, we value our gay and lesbian citizens as part of a diverse population that makes the state strong," Madaleno wrote. "Virginia is doing the opposite and letting its LGBT citizens - and those considering whether to move and work there - know that they and their families are unwelcome, second-class citizens. And they are counting on corporations like yours not to care."
While Virginia enshrined discrimination against gay persons into its constitution in 2006 by outlawing gay marriage, civil unions, or anything that resembles either, Maryland's attorney general has announced the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Madaleno pointed out.
The chief executive office of Equality Virginia, a gay rights group, also sent Northrop Grumman CEO Wesley Bush a similar letter.
Dan McClain, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman, said Bush has not yet read the letters and declined to comment on specific factors going into the company's relocation decision. But, he added, the company believes "a workplace that values diversity and fosters inclusion is pivotal to promoting innovation and increasing productivity."
For several years, Northrop Grumman has received a perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign for its protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. The corporation also offers family health benefits to the partners of its gay employees.
The letters pointed out that Gov. Bob McDonnell, citing advice from AG Ken Cuccinelli, refused to extend health benefits to other adults living in the homes of state employees, including gay partners, as had been proposed by former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine.
At some point, the decisions being made right now in Virginia - whether it's refusing to protect gay Virginians, slashing public school funding, decimating and ultimately destroying state aid for the arts, treating the poor and sick as disposable people, etc. - may well result in a blowback that will harm all of the state's citizens.
We will lose out on attracting business. We will create larger social problems to leave for our children. We will make Virginia a meaner, harder place to live.
In the name of full disclosure: I am a married, straight woman. My marriage has never been threatened by people of the same sex who want God to bless their union. I am a retired public school teacher who taught with both closeted and out-of-the closet gays during my career. None of them ever harmed a child, to my knowledge. I have had several good friends in my life who were lesbians. None of them ever tried to seduce or "turn" me. I firmly believe that bigotry against homosexuality is often caused by insecurity about one's own sexuality.
"War. Rape. Murder. Poverty. Equal rights for gays. Guess which one the Southern Baptist Convention is protesting?" - The Value of Families