The following letter is from Attorney General Mark Herring, which was featured in the 2016 Virginia PrideFest Pride Guide. You can read the guide in its entirety here, otherwise check out words from Herring, below:
If there was ever a moment for love, courage, and yes—PRIDE!—this is it!
We have come so far together as Americans in our recognition that equality is not based on who you are, where you come from, or whom you love.
But we’ve also been reminded that dark forces of violence and hatred have not been banished completely.
We still mourn those lost in Orlando, and we remain mindful of those who continue on the long journey to recovery. But no matter what, the compassion, understanding, conferral of dignity, and love that has propelled our nation’s embrace of equality has not been and will not be taken away by such a senseless and tragic act. In the face of such a terrible tragedy, we should come together even more tightly, united by our sadness, but also our resolve and sense of community.
And there remains much to celebrate here in Virginia and around the nation!
We are moving ever closer to a full embrace of the dignity and rights of all persons, including the LGBT community.
The Equality Act enjoys unprecedented support in Congress.
Here in Virginia, more than 5,000 same-sex couples have married since 2014, thousands more have had their marriages recognized, and children who have been raised in loving households now enjoy the safety and security of a two-parent household in the eyes of the law.
In the recent General Assembly session, the loud and clear voices of LGBT Virginians and allies were able to defeat North Carolina-style “bathroom bills” and other discriminatory measures.
And in May, I was able to examine Virginia’s anti-discrimination laws and determine that the Virginia Human Rights Act already offers protection against LGBT discrimination that violates federal law.
Our work is not yet finished, but for today, let’s celebrate the extraordinary progress, courage, grace, accomplishments, and pride of Virginia’s LGBT community, and recommit ourselves to a Commonwealth and a country where equality reigns.