The conservative Virginia interest group Family Foundation has supported the commonwealth’s new governor, and opposed a bill in the state legislature that would ban workplace discrimination against Virginians on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill comes following the failure of Governor McDonnell to sign an executive order against discrimination, a tradition of Virginia Governors in the first days of their terms. In recent years the executive order has come to include sexual orientation as a basis of discrimination, and facing heat from interest groups on the right such as Family Foundation, the Governor has yet to sign any order.
Chris Freund, vice president of policy and communication for Family Foundations has called the bill, “a solution in search of a problem,” and criticizes it as unnecessary legislation.
At first glimpse, Family Foundation seems like a supporter of limited government and individual rights. On their website, the group cites religious freedom and constitutional government as principles of its foundation. Specifically, the group argues, “jurisdiction of government…should be restrained from excessive involvement in the lives of citizens.” The fact is, however, that like so many other conservative groups, limited government and individual rights are just a slogan, and not inalienable rights.
Yet the hypocrisy of Family Foundation’s principles is blatant to a point of absurdity, as the words and values of the group are in direct contrast to their policies and legislative accomplishments. Just below the website’s link to their principles is the link to their policy victories. Nearly all of these legislative victories are successes in banning same-sex marriage, banning birth control measures, and promoting Christian values and rhetoric in public domain.
While the Family Foundation claims they are opposed to excessive government involvement in the lives of citizens, the group brags success in getting the state legislature to not only ban same-sex marriage, but to prevent the commonwealth from recognizing civil unions. Chris Freund said of the bill to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, “Why do we need a law when no one has presented a problem?” If that is the case, what is the problem that prompted Family Foundation to support a ban on civil unions?
Another legislative accomplishment of Family Foundation is, “required posting of [the] national motto ‘In God We Trust’ in all public buildings and schools.” What was the problem that required the passage of this law? Furthermore, if the group truly believes in constitutional government, then what is their stance on separation of Church and State?
Other accomplishments include the outlawing of riverboat gambling, limiting the distribution of the morning-after pill, prohibiting Virginia from recognizing same-sex marriage performed in other states, and internet filters in all public libraries.
Rather than supporting any kind of limited government or religious freedom, Family Foundation has a proven track record of advocating only for the further reach of government into the personal lives of the people of Virginia and the exertion of Christian values on all peoples of the commonwealth, regardless of their religion, or lack their of.
Governor McDonnell faced controversy during his election due to his extreme culturally conservative values. As a result, he ran a moderate campaign focused on small government and economic prosperity and the Virginia electorate handed him a huge victory. If he wishes to be a successful governor, McDonnell should stay true to the wishes of his constituents. Rather than backing down in the face of interest groups like Family Foundations, Governor McDonnell must be true to his campaign and work with the legislature to promote the true ideals of limited government and individual liberties.