CONVERSION THERAPY PRACTICES CONTINUE TO TROUBLE STATES
One of the nation’s most conservative states is the latest to take a stand in favor of LGBTQ equality. The law is the first of its kind in the nation. While other states have enacted regulations on conversion therapy by passing legislation—all aimed at youth under 18—Utah’s rule was enacted by the Psychologist Licensing Board. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints initially opposed the rule, Mormon leaders reversed course in November, endorsing the regulations.
Advocates working to ban conversion therapy across the United States believe Utah’s ban is a watershed moment for the movement. Here in Virginia, a bill similar to Utah’s is currently working its way through the General Assembly. Activists also have their eyes on a handful of conservative states during the current legislative session—including Kentucky and Georgia. Kentucky stands out because this year marks the first time a Republican has signed on to cosponsor the legislation.
CHARITABLE INGENUITY UNDERWRITES HEALTH CARE
Virginia, along with other states, has long been plagued by debilitating medical debt. Many of the counties are in Virginia’s coal fields. Now, RIP Medical Debt–founded by two debt collection executives in 2014–is partnering with the Secular Society in Blacksburg to buy and abolish this debt. RIP purchases medical debt for pennies on the dollar and then forgives it. They plan to spend $3 million over the next three years to wipe out the medical debt of people living in Southwest Virginia. These RIP funds could eliminate $350 million to $600 million of medical debt incurred by people living in 20 Virginia counties who earn less than twice the federal poverty guidelines or who are insolvent. Many receiving aid will find their creditworthiness restored, plus relief from dunning correspondence and judicial proceedings. Praise is due to the individuals and the two nonprofit organizations for providing a needed cure to the financial injuries that medical debt causes.
After Gov. Ralph Northam remarked about his support for allowing local governments to remove Confederate monuments, Lynchburg GOP Delegate Wendell Walker, tongue-in-cheek, opined, “If we’re going to do this, then I’m going to request to remove the Harry Byrd statue.” Walker went on, “He was a Democrat and advocated for Massive Resistance.”
Although Walker sought to withdraw his bill, his opposition refused and scheduled further consideration. Sometimes what one thinks is good for the gander simply isn’t.
Hey, bring it on! Quite a few Democrats said they looked forward to voting for Walker’s bill…. Democrats don’t generally defend Dems who were bigots. The GOP? Ah, that’s another matter.
SILENCE IN WISE COUNTY: NOT GOLDEN
Pound, Virginia, has joined Wise County is marking the Community Remembrance Project, an offshoot of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, and in support of a 2019 Virginia House of Delegates resolution that declared the Commonwealth’s “profound regret” for the history of lynching incidents in Virginia (84, with three in Wise County, the last being in 1927). This was apparently too much, however, for one Pound resident, who called its passage a disgrace.
Why? He said he was acquainted with several people who knew the victim of the man who was hanged, saying he (the hanged man) “got what he deserved.”
While lynching is a bad thing, he added, the council’s resolution does not acknowledge any sympathy for the “real victims.” He said that while what happened to the man who was hanged “was not a good thing,” people were enraged at the time because a good man was murdered for no reason. It’s wrong to lump those incidents together in a single resolution, he asserted.
After nearly a century, silence is not golden.
[See also https://voxfairfax.com/2019/06/24/loudoun-county-learns-its-history-of-lynching/, June 24, 2019.]
MOUNTAINEER STATE SEEKS NRA, OTHER COMMONWEALTH ENTITIES
A West Virginia state senator is inviting the National Rifle Association to move from Fairfax to his state as Virginia lawmakers pursue gun control measures. The invitation from Republican Sen. Randy Smith to NRA leadership said that West VA lets residents carry guns without permits and that its lawmakers have pushed to allow firearms on college campuses. The NRA has not commented. It also maintained a low profile at the recent gun rights rally at the Virginia Capitol.
The elected officials of the West VA legislature may not be communicating effectively with one another, a different senator invited Frederick County, VA, to secede from the Old Dominion and join its neighbor to the west. No comment from Virginia state officials concerning a twofer offer.
Good to know our neighbor retains the feel of the Old West! Good riddance, NRA! Now what will we do on the 14th of every month in your absence from Fairfax?
WINCHESTER: CHICKEN LITTLE BEARS FALSE WITNESS
As dozens upon dozens of Virginia counties and other jurisdictions have feverishly swallowed the message of Chicken Little that the sky was falling upon the right to bear arms, Winchester voted to decline to join the parade into the den of Foxy Loxy. By a narrow 5-4 vote, councilors rejected adoption of a second amendment sanctuary resolution. The decision demonstrates that cooler heads can prevail when the issue is the rule of law. A number of other jurisdictions have taken a path similar to that of Winchester. It remains to be seen whether any counties or cities rescind such resolutions.