Joined by LGBTQ rights advocates from around Virginia, Governor Northam held a ceremonial signing of the Virginia Values Act last Thursday at Diversity Richmond.
Last Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam got together with LGBTQ advocates from all over Virginia to host a ceremonial signing of the Virginia Values Act. The event, which was streamed on Equality Virginia’s Facebook page but not open to the public, was an opportunity to commemorate the significant expansion of LGBTQ rights in Virginia in a proper socially-distanced fashion, and everyone involved was glad to take it.
The Virginia Values Act was passed by both houses of the General Assembly earlier this year, signed into law in April by Governor Northam, and went into effect at the beginning of July. The act forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a number of areas, including employment, housing, and public accomodations. For the first time, LGBTQ Virginians can live free of worry that they will be evicted, fired, or refused service in stores and restaurants.
In light of such a groundbreaking expansion of LGBTQ rights within the state, LGBTQ advocates wanted to commemorate the Virginia Values Act’s passage in a more formal setting that hadn’t been possible in April, at the height of the pandemic. The gathering last Thursday at Diversity Richmond provided the perfect opportunity. Virginia Values Coalition director James Parrish, Equality Virginia executive director Vee Lamneck, local advocates Zakia McKensey and Aurora Higgs, and other LGBTQ Virginians were joined at the event by public officials including Governor Northam, Virginia First Lady Pam Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Virginia state Senator Adam Ebbin.
Governor Northam called the ceremonial signing “an exciting day for Virginia.” Referencing the years of effort that went into crafting and passing the Virginia Values Act, he said, “It has been a team effort and together, together we have all come a long way.”
Watch the full signing ceremony, as streamed on Facebook Live, below.
Photo via Governor Northam’s office