Last edited: December 05, 2004

Gays Move into The Mainstream, and Extremists Move Out

Roanoke Times, October 21, 2003
P. O. Box 2491, Roanoke, VA 24010
Fax: 703-981-3204

Jerry Kilgore’s low-level defiance of anti-gay groups suggests broader support in Virginia for basic rights of homosexuals.

Apparently not even the top expected Republican candidate for governor, for whom religious conservatives form a crucial voting block, feels he can routinely take sides against gay and lesbian Virginians anymore.

Attorney General Jerry Kilgore told Equality Virginia, the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia and the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club in a letter that the only qualification he cares about “is the person’s ability to do the job.”

That fell short of the nondiscrimination pledge that gay-rights activists have sought from elected state officials this year, but it reinforced the signal sent by Kilgore’s meeting earlier this year with the Log Cabin Republicans and his praise of their contributions to the party.

The signal is important because it suggests this: That support in Virginia for at least some homosexual rights has grown to the point that mainstream politicians no longer feel they must—or can—toe the line set by virulently anti-gay groups.

Not that Kilgore, a steadfast conservative himself, will be spotted marching in gay-pride parades anytime soon. He has opposed gay rights related to sodomy laws, home loans, marriage and benefits for same-sex partners.

Still, he suffered predictable condemnation from groups such as the Family Foundation and the Bedford County-based Family Policy Network, which object to any acceptance of, or protections for, homosexuals. Kilgore’s willingness to risk the conservative groups’ ire may represent personal conviction, but it also must reflect hard-nosed political considerations.

As recently as 1996, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole placated social conservatives by returning donations from the Log Cabin Republicans. Now, it seems, many Virginians recognize that gays and lesbians should be judged by their abilities and afforded a voice in politics, and it’s the extremists who are being—as they should be—ignored.

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