Today, HRC and Equality Virginia — the state’s leading LGBT advocacy group — hailed the Virginia Senate’s passage of two crucially important bills that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing and public employment. SB 423 would update Virginia’s Fair Housing Law to include non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 202 would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment, codifying into law protections that currently exist for state employees by way of executive order, and extending explicit protections to local government employees, including employees of school districts.
“Today, the Virginia Senate stood up for fairness and equality by voting to make the commonwealth a more welcoming and inclusive place for all Virginians, including LGBTQ people,” said Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director. “It’s essential for the future of Virginia that the newly elected House of Delegates move swiftly to ensure these long-overdue protections are passed and sent to Governor Northam to be signed into law. These are basic non-discrimination protections that LGBTQ Virginians need and deserve.”
“Both parties came together today to pass non-discrimination protections consistent with the views of a majority of Virginians who believe gay and transgender people should be able to work and live free from discrimination,” said James Parrish, Executive Director for Equality Virginia. “We are hopeful that with a new Speaker, and many new pro-equality members, that these bills will pass in the House of Delegates, where they have stopped short of protecting LGBT Virginians in the past.”
The commonwealth is one of thirty-one states that currently lacks basic non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The HRC Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute designated Virginia as a “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality” in the organization’s 2017 State Equality Index.
This past November, both HRC and Equality Virginia worked aggressively in the commonwealth to ensure pro-equality candidates were victorious at the ballot box. The organizations’ investments in key get-out-the-vote efforts targeting equality voters proved successful when Virginia voters rejected the politics of hate and fear by electing pro-equality candidates up and down the ballot.