Defense Contractor Urged To Reject Virginia Location Over LGBT Rights Slash

By executive order, last week Virginia Gov. Bob McConnell excluded LGBT residents from state employment protections. In return, gay rights groups are now lobbying defense contractor Northrop Grumman to reject Virginia as the location for its new national headquarters. One Maryland politician is leaping to take advantage of his state’s new recognition of same-sex marriages.

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 has also sent Northrop Grumman a letter recommending Maryland. The company has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Northrop is the fourth largest defense manufacturer in the world and is the largest builder of naval vessels. They plan to relocate their headquarters from Los Angeles to the DC area by 2011.