Bigotry Brain Drain

I haven’t made much comment about the marriage thing lately because, frankly, it’s too exhausting to keep up, and it’s dispiriting to see what lengths the right wing will go to in order to cloak their efforts to destroy gay peoples’ lives in the rhetoric of “preserving the family” (when the measures they are pushing do no such thing, but only destroy already-existing families).

Missouri recently approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and I don’t know enough about the amendment and its history to be sure, but the Missouri amendment (at least on the surface) seems actually less restrictive (in the sense that it doesn’t seem to contain Trojan horse language effectively banning civil unions and domestic partnership privileges) than the amendment that will probably be up for a vote here in Michigan in November.

Anyway, what prompted me to shoot off this post was the following wire story about a biology professor who’s moving out of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which in June enacted the most draconian anti-gay law in the country. The professor makes it clear that she’s moving because of the law:

In a letter to Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, Lynn Adler says she will leave Tech to take a position with the University of Massachusetts in Amherst this fall.

She says she is “sad and sorry” to be leaving Tech, but felt it was necessary because the laws of Virginia make it difficult for her to have a long-term future in the state.

Her partner does not have health insurance working part-time at Tech, and she says the state will not recognize them both as parents if they decide to have children.

She says the last straw was a law passed earlier this year that prohibits contracts between same-sex couples that purport to bestow the obligations of marriage.

The law is considered to be the harshest anti-gay measure in the country.

What’s interesting about this beyond the surface is that Charlottesville, VA ranks #25 on a list of software workers as total number of workers employed. No other locality in Virginia (other than the suburbs of DC) makes the list. Areas of the country that have strong concentrations of people employed in software-related activities also tend to have habitats that, as Richard Florida and his colleagues at the Software Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon have pointed out in empirical research, “attract creative and diverse people of all sorts,” tending thus to “do well in attracting [further] software activities and jobs.”

It may not be in Virginia’s interest to attract those types of jobs, but then again, it might not be in Virginia’s interest to join the 21st century, either. Only the legislators who thought this law was a fantastic idea can explain that. Here’s the kicker of the Lynn Adler story:

Adler says she was instrumental in bringing over a $500,000 in federal grants to Virginia Tech from the National Science Foundation.

Bye bye talent, bye bye capital, bye bye economic growth.