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Monday, March 8, 2010

Virginia newspaper owner blasts new attorney general

Nicholas Benton, owner of the award-winning Falls Church News-Press” in Virginia, today sent a public letter to that state's post-secondary schools to criticize the "unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry" by Virginia's new Republican attorney general, Kenneth Cuccinelli. Last week Cuccinelli sent notice to the state's colleges and universities advising them to remove any policy language that protects the rights of lesbians and gays.

Benton denounced Cuccinelli's action not only for removing existing equal rights protections for gay and lesbians, but also for its negative impact on economic development in Virginia. He says the action undermines civic efforts to embrace diversity and perpetuates a mood of hate, intimidation and violence fueled by the far right.

"The unprovoked, inflammatory act of bigotry by the new Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli last week, in the form of a letter advising Virginia colleges and universities to remove language protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination, takes away existing protections from an embattled minority, and represents a profound threat to the Commonwealth in a number of important ways,” writes Benton.

He continues, "I urge every fair-minded citizen, every civil libertarian, every elected official of any party, and every proponent of economic growth in Virginia, every advocate of civility, to go on record in strong opposition to the Attorney General's incendiary action and to affirm that every Virginian enjoys equal protection under the law. Wherever public resolutions or pronouncements can be enacted to this end by local jurisdictions, political action or religious groups, or business or other organizations, I urge this to be done with the sense of clarity and urgency it deserves.”

Benton has owned the “Falls Church News-Press” for 19 years. He has also served for 19 years on the board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and is also on the board of directors of the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club.


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