Bill to ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in Va. introduced

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: The Virginia State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) has introduced a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

Senate Bill 868 — also known as the Virginia Values Act — would prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. The measure has been referred to the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee.

“This legislation creates a critical update to Virginia law and sends a clear message that the Commonwealth is a safe and welcoming place for all people,” said James Parrish, director of the Virginia Values Coalition, a group of LGBTQ advocacy groups that supports the bill, Jan. 10 in a press release. “It is imperative lawmakers pass the Virginia Values Act in the General Assembly.”

Democrats last November regained control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) last month said during a press conference with Parrish, Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David and other activists that passage of a comprehensive LGBTQ nondiscrimination is a 2020 legislative priority. Governor Ralph Northam and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County) are among those who support the bill.

“Nondiscrimination protections are long overdue for Virginia’s LGBTQ community,” said Lamneck in Friday’s press release.

“The Virginia Values Act will ensure LGBTQ people are treated fairly and equitably by the laws of the state and have the opportunity to earn a living, access housing and healthcare, and participate fully in society,” they added. “This bill represents an important step to move our state forward.”

David in the press release agreed, noting last year’s election results.

“In November 2019 — after one of the largest state legislative electoral investments in the history of the Human Rights Campaign — Virginia voters sent a clear message that they want lawmakers to support fairness and equality for all, including LGBTQ people,” he said.

“For years, LGBTQ people living in Virginia have faced discrimination,” added David. “The Virginia Values Act will not only provide critical protections for LGBTQ Virginians, but expand existing civil rights laws to provide recourse for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, and veteran status. Virginia voters sent pro-equality majorities to Richmond to make this change, and we look forward to working with the House of Delegates and the Senate to pass the Virginia Values Act into law.”

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