In 2009, when I watched the results from the Virginia gubernatorial election rolled in, I was concerned. I had foreseen Creigh Deeds's loss to Bob McDonnell for quite some time, and though I was upset about it, I had accepted it as inevitable.
What concerned me the most, however, was State Delegate Steve Shannon's loss to State Senator Ken Cuccinelli in the race for Attorney General of Virginia. Four years ago, I was concerned about Cuccinelli's extremism. As it turns out, I had every reason to be concerned, and now I am concerned for the future of Virginia now that he is the Republican Party's nominee for Governor of Virginia.
While we have heard a lot in the past few weeks about the extremism of E. W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Obenshain, the Republican nominee for Attorney General, not enough attention has been paid to Cuccinelli's extremism--while not as much of a lunatic as Jackson, it is still important to note that Cuccinelli is still very much out of the mainstream and it should be reported on.
For the next few minutes, I would like to run through some of Ken Cuccinelli's extreme positions on some of the important issues to Virginians, specifically, those related to social policy. If this diary is received well (and if I have time!), I will take the time in future weeks to examine Cuccinelli's extremism with other issues as well.
• During a 2012 interview with Pro Life News (Truly, a reputable and balanced source for news concerning the nuances of abortion policy in the United States), Cuccinelli asserted the philosophy that guides his opinions on abortion:
"While we're trying to preserve some semblance of dignity for life, and even the women who are getting abortions, you know, we want to show them the respect and love they need at a very difficult time, all while keeping in mind the ultimate goal, which is to make abortion disappear in America, and make people want it that way."Indeed, Cuccinelli has worked to make this (Showing the women receiving abortions "respect and love"!) happen in any number of ways. Let's examine Cuccinelli's record on abortion as it has developed over time.
• In 2002, when Cuccinelli was running for the State Senate in a special election, he was endorsed by uberconservative and super crazy constitutional lawyer Michael Farris, who praised him for his opposition to RU-486, which acts as an abortifacient by blocking the "action of the hormone progesterone," which is needed to sustain a pregnancy. Cuccinelli's website from his 2002 campaign prominently featured Farris's endorsement, which noted:
"The Founding Fathers said that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights--among these is life. This captures the spirit of the only pro-life position that has the bedrock of both faith and a true understanding of human dignity. Anything later in the process allows man to usurp a role that solely belongs to God."And when you consider that Ferris's language is being used to highlight Cuccinelli's opposition to a pill, those words ring even crazier.
• In 2004, while serving as a member of the Virginia State Senate, Cuccinelli sponsored legislation that would require physicians administering abortions to anesthetize any fetuses being aborted, based on the debunked claim that fetuses can feel the pain of abortion. From the Roanoke Times:
Senate Bill 371, sponsored by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax County, stated that any fetus older than 12 weeks must receive painkillers "suitable for patients undergoing amputation" before being aborted. Failure to anesthetize the fetus would constitute a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.• When Cuccinelli ran for re-election to the State Senate in 2007, his campaign website indicated Cuccinelli's support for
"the right of professionals to refuse to perform an action that is inconsistent with their moral convictions without losing their job,"which is, of course, code for allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception and the morning-after bill.
• In 2011, when Cuccinelli addressed the Virginia Christian Alliance, he repeated a claim that many white, pro-life conservatives make, that the history of Planned Parenthood and the abortion movement is predicated on a racist, white supremacist philosophy, and that abortion clinics nowadays are working to extinguish the African-American population:
"I would encourage those of you that are particularly pasturing in black churches, look at the history of that movement. Go read Margaret Sanger's letters about the Harlem Project, and what she wanted to do. And I would also encourage you to pull out the map of Virginia, and look at where the abortion clinics are. You go look at that! If that doesn't make you mad, well you're a lot calmer person than I am. That makes me mad. Margaret Sanger is alive and well, at least her legacy is."• In 2012, the Virginia State Senate, in all its infinite wisdom, passed legislation that aimed to subject abortion clinics to additional regulations. Their supposed rationale was that abortion clinics should be more like hospitals in order to protect their patients, but their far-more-likely rationale was that abortion clinics should be inconvenienced in any way possible. From Slate:
[T]he new law mandates that the clinics would be required to provide, among other things, a parking spot for every bed in the clinic (although no overnight stays are needed), add toilets, increase the size of treatment rooms, and widen hallways so that they can accommodate the width of two gurneys (which also aren't used in these clinics).The Virginia Board of Health, however, possessing far more wisdom than the Senate, voted to "grandfather in the existing clinics," while mandating that newly-constructed clinics must meet the requirements. This wasn't good enough for Cuccinelli.
Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli refused to certify new abortion clinic regulations Monday, saying the Virginia Board of Health unlawfully stripped a hotly contested provision requiring clinics to meet the same strict architectural standards as new hospital construction.In fact, in the same interview with Pro Life News mentioned previously, Cuccinelli addressed this legislation:
"[The legislation will]...require treating the women going into those facilities, making a decision that you and I don't appreciate, to say the least, but that will make these facilities treat them with the respect that they deserve."Ah, yes, because legislation that is all about shutting down abortion facilities is really all about showing the women receiving abortions respect!
• In 2004, when the Virginia state legislature considered legislation that allowed "private companies to voluntarily provide health insurance benefits to employees' domestic partners," Cuccinelli, to no one's surprise, staked out a position against it. From the American Association for Single People:
Two weeks ago, Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax), a Virginia state Senator known for his anti-gay views, withdrew his support from the domestic partner insurance bill after being swayed by Del. Robert F. McDonnell (R-Virginia Beach), another conservative legislator. Citing a belief that homosexuality is wrong and a desire not to "encourage this type of behavior into law," Cuccinelli also said the bill offsets the state's DOMA law, which limits the issuance of marriage licenses to heterosexual couples.• In 2008, in a speech to the Family Foundation, "the lobby that fights in Richmond against abortion, no-fault divorce, embryonic stem cell research and pornography," Cuccinelli had some Michele Bachmann-esque words about homosexuality in general. From the National Journal:
"The incentives I am opposed to that this bill would put into place far outweigh the economic benefits to the state," Cuccinelli said. "When Bob McDonnell pointed those incentives out to me, I changed my mind about supporting it."
"When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul."• In 2010, Cuccinelli sent out an official memo to state universities, telling them that not only did they not need to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, but that it would be illegal for them to do so.
"It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity,' 'gender expression,' or like classification, as a protected class within its nondiscrimination policy."Even Bob McDonnell could not support the entirety of Cuccinelli's opinion, as he issued HIS OWN directive to all state agency directors. From the Washington Post:
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell issued a directive to all 102,000 state employees Wednesday that prohibits discrimination in the state workforce, including on the basis of sexual orientation, and warns he will reprimand or fire anyone who engages in it.• Again, while speaking to the Virginia Christian Association in 2011, Cuccinelli shares more of his positions on homosexuality:
"One of the things that I faced in the Senate when I would be defending the continual assault, and it's always going on, the homosexual agenda is there every year, and it's carried forward every year, and there's this discussion of the word 'family.' And I will tell you that there are elements of our society that aren't real well-connected with the dictionary. [laughter] It's a real problem for them. Noah Webster gets in the way all the time."• And, of course, this necessitates questioning whether gay people can actually be a part of families:
"Statistically, what they'd like to refer to as 'homosexual families' is an extremely small portion of the population."• Earlier this year, Cuccinelli asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to revive a Virginia law that banned sodomy, despite the fact that the law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that Virginia's law, and all other state laws like it, were unconstitutional. From Mother Jones:
Cuccinelli wants the court to revive the prohibition on consensual anal and oral sex, for both gay and straight people.This is despite the fact, that recently:
The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on March 12 that a section of Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" statute that outlaws sodomy between consenting adults, gay or straight, is unconstitutional based on a U. S. Supreme Court decision in 2003 known as Lawrence v. Texas.• And finally, when running for Attorney General in 2009, Cuccinelli was strongly criticized by the Virginian-Pilot, a newspaper based in Hampton Roads, Virginia, for saying:
"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that. ... They don't comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society."The Virginian-Pilot itself noted:
To put it politely, Cuccinelli's election would bring embarrassment to Virginia, instability to the state's law firm and untold harm to the long list of people who don't fit his personal definition of morality.MARRIAGE
• Also while speaking to the Family Foundation in 2008, Cuccinelli staked out a strong position on marriage, where he strongly opposed divorce:
"If you are sued for divorce in Virginia, there's virtually nothing you can do to stop it. This law has everything to do with the breakdown of the family. The state says marriage is so unimportant that if you just separate for a few months, you can basically nullify the marriage. What we're trying to do is essentially repeal no-fault divorce when there are children involved."• And, of course, Cuccinelli opposes gay marriage in any form. His campaign website, archived from before his campaign for Attorney General, notes:
"Ken supports an Amendment to both the U.S. Constitution and the Virginia Constitution to protect marriage and families by defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman."MISCELLANEOUS
• Cuccinelli apparently believes that the Humanist Manifesto, which was first published in 1933 and outlines the humanist worldview, is part of a massive conspiracy theory:
"It's like reading the game plan for the other side, as if there's a vast left-wing conspiracy. You will find out, there is! They had a plan eighty years ago! And if you read it now, it reads like unfolded history, including the attack on God Himself."CONCLUSION
Ken Cuccinelli is an extreme candidate who actually stands a chance of winning this year's gubernatorial election in Virginia. Virginia is a swing state, and though it voted for then-Senator Obama in 2008 and President Obama in 2012, it has a long history, dating back to the 1970s, in fact, of electing a Governor who is the opposite party of the President. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for Governor, faces a tough race in the months ahead. Consider contribute to his campaign via ActBlue. It's important to keep someone as extreme as Ken Cuccinelli as far away from influencing public policy as possible.