Resistance in Tradition of Virginia
Daily Progress, July 6, 2003
Box 9030, Charlottesville, VA 22906
By Bob Gibson, Charlottesville Daily Progress
Thirty or forty years ago, Richmond’s reaction to a
pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions advancing gay rights and allowing
affirmative action at state universities would have been sharply negative.
The General Assembly hardly distinguished itself in the
mid-1950s when massive resistance was crafted to greet the court’s historic
1954 ruling that struck down “separate but equal” segregated schools.
That resistance failed and tarred the state’s political
life for a generation or more.
Instead of massive resistance, opponents of gay rights
and foes of affirmative action may try passive resistance to the law of the
land emanating from the court.
Virginia resisters will try to paint gay rights as some
sort of great moral threat to society and rally around the institution of
marriage as if it were under some grave threat or imminent attack.
They also may resist, somewhat passively and
symbolically, legislative attempts to wipe Virginia’s now obsolete
anti-sodomy law off the books.
“I think we ought to clean up the code, Del. Mitchell
Van Yahres, D-Charlottesville, said last week.
Van Yahres wondered if Republican conservatives who want
smaller government would try to take the broom to the anti-sodomy law that the
court’s landmark 6-3 ruling in its Texas case rendered null and void.
“It’s obsolete” and cluttering up the state code
with stale and unenforceable language, he said.
Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle County, said he has not heard
of any attempts to craft legislation stemming from the court’s gay rights
ruling or its pair of decisions in Michigan cases that allow affirmative
action but forbid the use of points awarded to all college applicants based
solely on race.
As for the state’s ancient and now-dead anti-sodomy
law, “I think the Supreme Court has ruled,” Bell said. “The Supreme
Court decision has taken a law that was rarely, if ever, enforced and made it
Van Yahres called the Supreme Court decisions
Bell said the anti-sodomy statute may be taken off the
books “in the long run” but he is not sure how or when. The code doesn’t
get scrubbed clean every year.
The Republican did indicate it would surprise him if
there are any attempts in the General Assembly next year to undermine or
contradict the recent Supreme Court decisions.
The affirmative action rulings are unlike the gay rights
landmark case in that they leave lots of options open to the universities and
the states, Bell said.
“I have not heard of anything being proposed” to curb
the use of affirmative action in Virginia college admissions, the Republican
Many conservative Republicans are wary of affirmative
action, calling it a tool that can be used to deny qualified white applicants
spaces in universities if less qualified minority applicants are boosted ahead
of them in the admissions process.
Although President Bush has welcomed the court rulings,
he and other party leaders are under pressure from conservative activists to
push only judicial candidates who oppose the use of affirmative action.
The hottest battleground for those resisters may be the
fights in Washington and in Richmond over appointments and confirmations of
Conservative hot social litmus tests will be applied and
decried as true believers in some of the old ways of discrimination seek to
shape courts and undo what this Republican majority U.S. Supreme Court has
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