2 Bills to Ban Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity In All Employment Sent to 2014 GA
Two bills to ban discrimination in the public workforce across Virginia have been put before the General Assembly for the 2014 season. HB 417 and HB562 have mirrored language which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and defines “sexual orientation” as a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression.
Currently, it is legal in the state of Virginia to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. However these bills would clarify the issue and put sexual minorities into the list of protected classes in the Virginia Human Rights.
In a surprising display of bi-partisanship, HB 562 is sponsored by Del. Ron Villanueva, a Republican from District 21 in Virginia Beach. HB 417 is sponsored by Del. Marcus Simon of House District 53 in Falls Church.
“We’re happy to see legislatures supporting bills that include gender identity and expression,” said James Parish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Especially a republican like Villanueva, it’s a pretty big deal.”
But Parish said the language in both bills still needed to be tweaked. The grouping of gender identity with sexual orientation needs to be broken up, and the phrase “The bill expressly provides that “sexual orientation” does not include any person’s attraction towards persons with whom sexual conduct would be illegal due to the age of the parties” needs to be removed – both of these language issues were solved in last year’s version of the bill which made it through the Senate on a 24-16, but failed in house committee.
“These are their bills, we can’t make anyone change the language. But we will work with them to get the language in line with the language used in the nondiscrimination bill,” said Parish.
Mirroring language across bills is common – when legislation is constituent driven copies of bills can be entered into the GA, but usually similar bills are rolled into one vote at committee hearings, despite important language, such as the use of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The future of these bills, both of which will have to survive House sub committees, is up in the air, but Parish sees Villanueva’s efforts as a good sign. “We see it as a very positive sign that a republican delegate would support a Virginia Human Rights act that includes sexual orientation and Gender Identity.”
Two bills which proposed protections for LGBTQ public employees were killed in a House subcommittee today. The bills would have prevented public employers from firing employees based on a “…person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression.” The two bills which were voted on today, HB1643 and HB1498, were a bipartisan effort proposed by [...]January 29, 2015
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