VA Lawmakers Push LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections For State Employees

virginiaTwo state senators in Virginia have introduced a bill to add non-discrimination protections for LGBT state employees.

“All Virginians deserve equal opportunity, fairness and justice,” said Sen. Adam Ebbin, a co-sponsor of the bill and the first openly gay member of the Virgina General Assembly.  “The Commonwealth must remain competitive and now is the time to move forward and protect our state workers.”

Currently there are no workplace protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the Old Dominion, despite the fact that 90% of Virginians believe there should be—and 60% of private employers in the state offer them. (Some 80% offer protections for sexual orientation alone).

“Employment and advancement should be solely dependent on job performance,” says co-sponsor Sen. Donald McEachin (D-9). “No one should be subject to discrimination on the job, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Virginia lawmakers don’t exactly have the best record when it comes to the gay community: In 2012 the General Assembly refused to confirm a judicial post for former fighter pilot Tracy Thorne-Begland, simply because he was forced to lie about his sexuality under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Equality Virginia and ten other organizations have leant their support to passing SB 701, including ProgressVA, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, AARP Virginia and LGBT Democrats of Virginia. “This is an amazing response we’ve seen from Virginians in favor of protecting our state employees,” says Equality Virginia director James Parrish. “We hope every senator and delegate is listening to their constituents on this issue.”

To date, the General Assembly has received more than 11,235 constituent messages in support of SB701, which faces a vote in the General Laws and Technology Committee on January 21.