, October 28, 1999
By John-Henry Doucette, The Virginian-Pilot
Ken Warrington is gay and he votes.
Mostly, he says, he's a politically active Democrat.
That's the strongest affiliation the 55-year-old Norfolk man holds, mostly because he
grew up in a family where leaning a little left was a prerequisite for sitting down at the
"I'm not a one-issue voter, for one thing," Warrington said. "I might be
gay, but what are your laws on transportation? Guns? On abortions? Then it comes (to)
where do you stand on gay and lesbian issues?"
To help all voters get a better handle on where candidates stand on issues that affect
gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender Virginians, a statewide lobbying agency has
published a scorecard and legislative summary since 1991.
Virginians for Justice board chairman Patrick Heck said that the group did not widely
circulate its scorecard until 1997, when more politicians began answering the survey upon
which part of it is based, meaning it could inform more voters in different parts of the
The legislative scorecard and survey results are available online at www.visi.net/vj
This year, perhaps 40 candidates for the General Assembly answered the survey, though
most responses came from Democrats and independents, Heck said. So called
"gay-issues" are becoming easier to speak of, he said.
"I think the power of the gay vote is real," Heck said. "And it's not
just gay people. It's the gay-supporting people, the parents, the family, the
The lobbying group ranked all incumbents on their voting records during the last
General Assembly session on issues such as:
- The inclusion of sexual orientation in state hate crimes laws, which currently allow
additional civil and criminal penalties to be levied against those who victimize on the
basis of race, color, national origin or religion.
- Decriminalization of "crimes against nature" law acts, so long as they are
noncommercial and between consenting adults. Gay rights advocates say these laws, often
mentioned as "sodomy laws," may be used to target homosexuals and amount to
state control of bedroom activity.
- Ensuring health and sex education programs will be offered statewide at public schools.
- Funding for the study, prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.
Warrington is not a member of Virginians for Justice, but is on the mailing list, which
he uses. He uses the guide to help determine how tolerant politicians are, he said.
Heck has done the same to develop a picture of which candidates support gay rights
locally and in Northern Virginia, two urban areas where more politicians answered their
"And what do all of them have in common?" Heck asked of the politicians who
"They're African-American," he said. "The black caucus has been very
supportive of gay issues. They understand discrimination."