Activists and allies gather at the Capitol to sway Virginia lawmakers on LGBTQ issues
After an unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced this General Assembly session, Virginia constituents gathered at the state capitol today for Equality Virginia’s Day of Action to lobby their elected officials on issues that effect the LGBTQ community.
“After gay marriage was legalized, it seems that Republicans have made it their agenda to do whatever they can to hinder the rights of the LGBTQ community,” said a Richmonder Holly Gordon who has been coming to Lobby Day for almost a decade. “It is evident with this slew of anti LGBTQ bills that the community has become a target.”
Those who lobbied came to let their elected officials know they are paying attention to what is happening in the GA, and to further explain what the outcomes of these bill could mean for them and their friends and family.
“Just putting a face to the issue can affect the outcome of a bill,” Richmond local Michael said. “I feel like a cause can slip under the radar of a [housemember] if it doesn’t directly affect them, so giving a piece of paper an active voice definitely has the power to change that.”
Paula Prettyman, who is on the board of People of Faith for Equality in NoVa, a group supporting LGBTQ issues from a position of spiritual faith, came to lobby against HB773, Del. Todd Gilbert’s Religious freedoms bill, which would allow discrimination based on same-sex marriages under the guise of deeply held religious beliefs.
“I have come to lobby for the faith argument for equality,” said Prettyman. “It’s something these legislators need to consider.”
Other bills people came to lobby against today also include the “bathroom bill,” HB781, which would allow the imposition of a penalty of $50 to someone who uses a bathroom that does not correlate with their biological sex.
Which means even if people who have corrected their gender on their driver’s license and voter ID, they would still be subject to the fine.
— Elizabeth F (@fogliz) February 9, 2016
Camilla Hill, Assistant Director of VCU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, came to lobby specifically against this bill.
“HB781 has the possibility of affecting VCU students and I have come here today to hope that doesn’t happen,” she said. “We have already created gender neutral bathrooms at the school, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave that as a transgender student’s only option.”
Among the more positive issues that constituents came out to support today are SB12 which aims to end discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender, as well as SB67 that provides equal housing protections for the LGBTQ community.
“I work with the homeless a lot and this is an issue that continues to persist,” Diane, a first time attendee to EV’s Day of Action, who came from Chesterfield to specifically challenge housing issues.
HB783 goes before the full House General Laws committee today after the House Adjourns.
You can visit EV’s website to stay up to date with the issues and to learn about other ways to get involved this GA session.
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- Openly gay legislators rally to remove defunct same-sex marriage bans from Virginia law and constitution, October 19, 2016
- Equality Virginia seeking a Transgender Program Coordinator, July 27, 2016
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