Once again, legislators introduced bills to protect LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination. And once again, the House Of Delegates never even voted on them.
In Virginia, it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ persons in the workplace and in housing, after two bills addressing these issues were killed in this year’s General Assembly session without even making it to a full committee hearing.
Presently, LGBTQ persons can be denied jobs and fair treatment in a public workplace. They can also be denied housing. But in the 2019 General Assembly session, which just ended, State Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) introduced SB 998, and State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-9) introduced SB 1109, to protect gay and transgender Virginians from discrimination in employment and housing, respectively.
Despite a recent poll released by Equality Virginia showing widespread bipartisan support across the state for these bills, as well as their passage in the Virginia Senate, they both failed to pass the House of Delegates.
“The overwhelming majority of voters, Senate Republicans, and members of his own caucus gave Speaker Cox a clear path to support legislation that would protect LGBT Virginians from discrimination, and he chose not to take it,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia. “It’s clear that Speaker Cox does not share the vision and values of the majority of Virginians, including Republican primary voters. What we need in the General Assembly now is new leadership that does.”
Similar bills were introduced in previous General Assembly sessions as well. However, they have yet to make it to a floor hearing, in any session.
“Last year, when Speaker Cox killed LGBT nondiscrimination bills, I felt disappointed and betrayed,” Parrish said. “This year, I feel disappointed and dumbfounded,”
The General Assembly has adjourned for this year, but Parrish said they will not give up fighting until it is illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ persons.
“Over the next year we’ll be working hard to make sure our leaders reflect the will of the voters and are prepared to move equality forward in the Commonwealth,” Parrish said.