On the heels of yesterday’s Virginia Values Forum (click on the video above to watch last night’s forum), a discussion that focused on the fact that Virginia is one of 30 states in the country without legislation that protects LGBT citizens against various forms of discrimination in daily life, Equality Virginia announced today the formation of the Virginia Values Coalition.
The statewide advocacy group comprised of faith leaders, law enforcement officers, business leaders and citizens from all walks of life throughout the Commonwealth has been created to advocate in the next General Assembly for anti-discrimination legislation that will protect LGBT citizens from being denied housing, employment or even service in stores or restaurants.
“There are laws that protect individuals’ rights based on their race, gender and religion, but in Virginia those protections do not extend to citizens based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, a leading advocacy organization in Virginia that seeks equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “The Virginia Values Coalition has been formed to educate the public about this unacceptable gap in civil protections and urge state legislators to work collaboratively to close it. Our vision is for a Virginia where everyone can live, work and play on a fair and equal playing field.”
Under current Virginia law – as in 29 other states in the nation – LGBT people are not explicitly protected from discrimination. That means that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can be fired, evicted or denied service in restaurants or stores based solely on who they are or who they love.
“This Coalition is broad and deep and represents all parts of Virginia and all walks of life; it is, in fact, the face of Virginia,” Parrish said. “We are a grassroots movement with a voice advocating fairness, equality and economic competitiveness, a voice that we expect to resonate throughout the corridors of Capital Square in 2020.”
For more information on the Virginia Values Coalition, or to lend your support to the cause, visit vavalues.org.