Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made national waves this past year as he was running for governor due to his staunchly conservative views on social issues. Gay rights was a particularly heated topic surrounding the Republican, who famously said that the “homosexual agenda … brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.”
And now, despite losing a seat in the governor’s mansion to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli has decided to use his final day at Attorney General to make a last stand against gay marriage.
In his final opinion as Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli declared that “a Governor may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns.” While the opinion is non-binding and can easily be overturned by incoming Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, it certainly is an interesting way for Cuccinelli to solidify his legacy as one of the harshest lawmakers for LGBT rights.
The state of Virginia maintains a constitutional ban on gay marriage, but the federal repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act means that, despite Virginia’s local laws, the state still has to provide legally married gay couples with equal protection under the law. This requirement has caused some legal hiccups: In December the Virginia Department of Taxation made the decision to require legally married gay couples to still file their taxes under a single person status, despite the federal statute.
Earlier this month, Cuccinelli released another opinion aimed at gay couples, stating that legally married gay public employees were barred from receiving employee benefits for their spouses. This, too, will likely be overturned by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Already McAuliffe has issued an executive order banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, making good on his campaign promise to champion LGBT rights.
It’s interesting to see how Virginia, a newly Democratic state, still has lawmakers like Ken Cuccinelli refusing to conform to the rapidly changing political climate. That steadfastness – holding on so tightly to an opinion that helped lose him the governor’s race – may very well speak volumes about Cuccinelli’s career aspirations going forward.
[Image via the Blue Ridge News]