Equality Virginia is celebrating the newly elected pro-equality majorities in Virginia’s House and Senate, as Democrats take control of both chambers. The LGBT advocacy organization and its partners will be working with legislators to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians in the upcoming General Assembly.
“Virginia’s voters were loud and clear and elected a pro-equality majority in the House and Senate,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia Advocates, the c(4) nonprofit that works alongside Equality Virginia to advance equality rights for LGBT Virginians. “We look forward to working with the 2020 General Assembly to pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians in employment, housing and public spaces like stores or restaurants.”
Virginia is home to 185,000 LGBT adults. Under current Virginia law – as in 29 other states in the nation – LGBT people are not explicitly protected from discrimination. That means that LGBT Virginians can be fired, evicted or denied service in restaurants or stores simply because of who they are.
Leading up to the election, Equality Virginia engaged nearly 16,000 voters through calls and knocking on doors to support pro-equality candidates. The organization recently formed the Virginia Values Coalition, a statewide network of faith leaders, law enforcement officers, business leaders and citizens from all walks of life who believe in protecting our LGBT neighbors from discrimination. The Coalition is partnering with Equality Virginia to advocate in the 2020 General Assembly for statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians in employment, housing and public spaces.
“For the past six years, the Republican-controlled State Senate passed bipartisan legislation to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and public employment, but these bills were blocked in the House,” Parrish said. “With the new pro-equality majorities, we expect the General Assembly to go further and pass more comprehensive protections that include all employment and public accommodations.”
According to 2019 Mason-Dixon polling, nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians has strong bipartisan support among voters across the commonwealth.
“We as Virginians believe in treating others as they themselves want to be treated,” Parrish continued. “We can all agree that discrimination is wrong, and everyone deserves a safe place to call home. That’s why we’re calling on our state lawmakers to pass common sense laws to protect LGBT Virginians from discrimination in their daily lives. Our state is at its strongest when we’re all free to work hard, earn a decent living and go about our lives without fear of discrimination.”
Equality Virginia is also focused on building support for transgender individuals living in Virginia. According to national data, only 16% of people say they personally know someone who is transgender. The organization is hosting “Ask a Trans Person” panels throughout the state that include transgender individuals sharing personal experiences and answering questions.
For more information about Equality Virginia’s work to pass nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians, visit www.vavalues.org.