Equality Virginia’s Equality Summit Aims to Grow Movement Toward Equality in Virginia
Are you lost in the rhetoric around the fight for equality here in Virginia? Lord knows there’s a lot of information out there, but hearing it from a local voice in person can sometimes make things a lot easier.
Enter the good folks at Equality Virginia and the VA ACLU and their joint event, The Virginia Equality Summit, happening Saturday 4/5 from 9:30 to 2 PM at the Richmond Convention Center.
“We hope to bring together advocates from across the commonwealth to strategize and learn from each other: what is and isn’t effective from an advocacy perspective,” said Frank Knaack, Director of Public Policy and Communication at the Virginia ACLU.
Knaack said the day will be split into two sections, with morning sessions being a series of speakers focusing on three core issues facing the LGTBQ community here in VA: marriage equality, workplace non-discrimination, and using religion to discriminate.
- Claire Guthrie Gastañaga – Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia
- James Parrish – Executive Director, Equality Virginia
- Marc Solomon – National Campaign Director, Freedom to Marry
- Ian Thompson – Legislative Representative, ACLU
- Bill Harrison – President and Executive Director, Richmond Gay Community Foundation
- Jayne Barnard – Cutler Professor of Law and Kelly Professor of Teaching Excellence, William and Mary Law School
- Mary Aab – Director, The LGBT Center of Hampton Roads
- Cathy Woodson – Central Virginia Organizer, Virginia Organizing
Knack said he was most excited about the panel discussion on religious discrimination. While Arizona managed to doge a bill allowing businesses the right to deny services based on “deeply held religious beliefs,” Knaack said Virginia just passed legislation which grants genetic counselors such rights and similar discriminatory provisions have in the state code for
just passed legislation as recently as this year passed similarly worded legislation that grants generic counselors a license to discriminate, and it’s similar discriminatory provisions have
“It’s taken us back to something we’ve thought we got away from,” said Knaack. “In the 60’s you saw restaurant owners were using this same argument to challenge integration and I think its something we’re unfortunately seeing pop up again… We want to let folks know it’s not only coming to Virginia, it’s already here, and it’s been here for several years.”
After the morning session, a boxed lunch will be provided, and the afternoon will be filled with breakout sessions where attendees will have the opportunity to engage one another and the event speakers to learn “how can we as a community come together and make change here in VA,” said Knaack.
“We hope to talk about what messaging is affective, and to dive deeper into each issue,” said Knaack. But he stressed the event was not just for those already active in the fight.
“We don’t want to limit this to activists, we hope all folks from the community who care about these issues and want to learn more and maybe get involved for the first time will come as well.”
The Virginia Equality Summit happens April 5th, the same day as EV’s Commonwealth Dinner, so those in town for the night’s event could spend the morning learning how they can get more involved.
Registration for the event is open to everyone and a $10 fee will get you a boxed lunch. You can register and read more about the event here.
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