Last edited: December 07, 2004

Conservatives See Fisette Appointment as a Threat

Washington Post, July 11, 2002
1150 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20071

By Fredrick Kunkle

Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette sees his new appointment to the Virginia Housing Development Authority’s board as an opportunity to help create more affordable housing throughout the state.

Victoria Cobb, legislative affairs director for the Richmond-based Family Foundation, sees the authority’s appointment of Fisette, who is openly gay, as part of a stealth campaign by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) to transform the commonwealth into Sodom and Gomorrah.

Warning of the public danger of allowing homosexuality to flourish, Cobb said in an interview last week that Fisette’s appointment poses a threat that goes beyond the authority’s so-called "family rule" prohibiting loans to gay couples.

"It’s the Commonwealth endorsing homosexual relationships," Cobb said. "In the Commonwealth of Virginia the act of sodomy—which, in law, is considered a crime against nature—is still a felony. It has dangerous health risks to Virginia." Fisette, whose election in 1997 was seen as a milestone by gay activists, chuckled at the attack.

"I didn’t realize I was that important," said Fisette, who shares a home with his partner of more than 19 years. But he said he would have been more shocked if the Family Foundation had supported his appointment. "Their limited view of the world, and families, is clearly a step back in time and quite different from the world we live in."

The rule banning low-interest loans to gay couples was rescinded briefly in the 1990s but then reinstated in 1996 under Gov. George Allen (R).

In January, the Virginia Housing Development Authority board defeated a Warner-inspired attempt to repeal regulations that prohibit financing low-interest loans to joint home buyers unless they are "related by blood, birth, marriage or custodial guardianship." Instead, the board voted only to extend loans to single parents and elderly or disabled buyers.

All of the authority’s 10 members are appointed by the governor. Fisette’s appointment—Warner’s first to the agency—sends a clear message that his administration will keep working to change the rule, Warner press secretary Ellen Qualls said. She said that the loan policy is the most restrictive in the nation and that it’s out of step with the private market, which lends to unmarried couples of any persuasion as long as their credit is good.

"Fisette is the kind of person the governor is looking for, because he’s looking for people to vote to expand the lending policy to serve more Virginians," Qualls said.

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