Gays Move into The Mainstream, and Extremists Move Out
Times, October 21, 2003
P. O. Box 2491, Roanoke, VA 24010
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
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
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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