Today is a historic day in Virginia.
Today, the Virginia Values Act — a comprehensive bipartisan law that expands non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and adds all-new protections in employment and public accommodations for all Virginians — takes effect in Virginia.
Today, roughly 257,400 LGBTQ people in Virginia — people of color, people of faith, immigrants, women and more — are protected from discrimination at work and in their communities. And that is not all.
In addition to the Virgina Values Act, a historic slate of pro-LGBTQ laws also takes effect in the commonwealth today:
A law banning the practice of so-called conversion therapy.
A law adding a non-binary gender marker option on state driver’s licenses and IDs for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming Virginians.
A law prohibiting a health insurance carrier from denying or limiting coverage to a transgender individual.
A law ensuring public schools provide an equal learning environment to transgender students
A law repealing the ban of same-sex marriage in Virginia’s code.
A law allowing cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances.
A law updating Virginia’s code to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Laws updating Virginia’s hate crimes law to include LGBTQ people and requires the reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity along with other protected characteristics.
A law requiring diversity and cultural competency training for state employees.
Effective September 1, 2020: a law eliminating the requirement for a court order or proof of medical procedure in order to update one’s gender marker on a birth certificate.
Last month, the Supreme Court affirmed that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The historic ruling by the Supreme Court affirms that view, but there is still work left to be done. The impact of the Bostock vs. Clayton County decision on state legislation shows us that pro-equality laws are still necessary.
Statewide employment non-discrimination laws are often more expansive: they often include protected classes beyond what is reflected in Title VII, include more employers, offer better remedies to folks who have experienced discrimination, and are more accessible than filing a federal claim.
Further, as with the Equality Act, state non-discrimination laws include protections beyond employment, reaching housing, places of public accommodation, jury service, credit, education and other critical areas. As Virginia now does, states should make sure that discrimination against LGBTQ people is treated the same way as other types of discrimination.
As HRC fights to keep a pro-equality U.S. House majority, make gains in the U.S. Senate, elect a pro-equality president and set us up to achieve full legal equality at the federal level by passing the Equality Act, it’s important to remember our unified fight at the state level must continue. As we’ve done many times before, we must continue to mobilize in support of pro-equality legislation, like the Virginia Values Act, and vehemently stand against legislation that attempts to harm the lives of LGBTQ people.
There is still so much to do, in Virginia and around the country, but today we take a moment to celebrate.
For more information on how you can help elect pro-equality candidates in Virginia, please contact Narissa Rahaman at email@example.com.