Last week you'll recall our report on Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, the newly-installed anti-gay fundamentalist who quickly removed job protections for the Commonwealth's LGBT employees. Equality groups and pro-gay legislators using that directive to lobby defense contractor Northrop Grumman against choosing Virginia as the location for its new national headquarters.
In a letter sent Thursday to the company's CEO, Maryland State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) argued his state's stand on gay rights better mirrors the company's own longstanding commitment to gay and lesbian employees. "Here in Maryland, we value our gay and lesbian citizens as part of a diverse population that makes the state strong," Madaleno wrote. "Virginia is doing the opposite and letting its LGBT citizens -- and those considering whether to move and work there -- know that they and their families are unwelcome second-class citizens. And they are counting on corporations like yours not to care."
The Los Angeles-based company is currently deciding between Virginia, Maryland and the District as a new home for its 300 top executives, running an unusually public contest among the three. Madaleno, who is gay, wrote that new Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) are "turning back the clock" on gay rights, as Maryland's attorney general has announced the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Virginia voters in 2006 amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage.
Equality Virginia also sent Northrop Grumman a letter recommending Maryland. The Washington Post adds: "Persuading a massive company like Northrop Grumman not to move to the state would be a massive symbolic victory for the [gay rights] movement."
Northrop is the fourth largest defense manufacturer in the world and is the largest builder of naval vessels. The company manufacturers all U.S. aircraft carriers and is one of only two companies capable of producing U.S. nuclear submarines. It boasts a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign for its protections of LGBT employees.