Today, Equality Virginia and HRC commended the Virginia State Senate for passing legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, while calling on the House of Delegates to prioritize these bills this session. The two bills that passed the Senate, SB 1009 and SB 998 would add these crucial, commensense protections for LGBTQ Virginians in housing and public employment, respectively. Earlier this week, several Republican members of the House of Delegates announced their support for these bills at a press conference, showing bipartisan support for these measures in both chambers. Over the past several elections, Equality Virginia and HRC have successfully elected pro-equality champions at every level of Virginia’s state government.
“For the fourth year in a row, the Virginia Senate has passed these crucial protections for LGBTQ Virginians with bipartisan support,” said James Parrish, Executive Director for Equality Virginia. “LGBTQ people should be able to work and live free from discrimination. Residents of the commonwealth overwhelmingly agree -- supporting equality isn’t a Republican or Democratic value -- it’s a Virginia value. It’s time for the House of Delegates to finally take up and pass these bills. It’s not controversial, it’s common sense.”
“These are basic non-discrimination protections that LGBTQ Virginians need and deserve, and that will make the commonwealth a more welcoming and inclusive place for all Virginians,” said Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director. “Voters in Virginia -- who continue to elect more and more pro-equality lawmakers -- simply have no appetite for discrimination and want to be sure that their friends and neighbors are protected the same way they are. It’s essential for the future of Virginia that pro-equality legislators in the House act on these non-discrimination bills and ensure that these long-overdue protections are passed.”
In February of 2018, The Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm that has done extensive work in Virginia and for national Republican candidates, conducted a poll of “base” Republican voters, specifically voters who have participated in at least two out of four of the last Republican primaries in the Commonwealth. They found:
- 55% of Republican voters believe it “should be against the law to discriminate in housing against someone who is gay or transgender.”
- Only 35% opposed. 59% of Republican voters believe it should be against the law to discriminate in public employment against someone who is gay or transgender.” Only 32% opposed.
Last week, Mason-Dixon, a pollster with a long track record of work in Virginia as well, asked about the same issues in a January 2019 statewide poll. While finding broad support amongst the greater electorate, the pollster again found Republican voters onboard. They found:
- 53% of Republicans said they would support “legislation at the General Assembly this year that would update Virginia’s nondiscrimination laws to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing.” Only 38% opposed.
- 63% of Republicans said they would support “legislation at the General Assembly this year that would update Virginia’s nondiscrimination laws to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in employment.” Only 30% opposed.
Equality Virginia is the leading advocacy organization in Virginia seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and a Virginia that is a safe, welcoming, and equal place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their families to live, work, and play.