A bill that would provide protections to LGBT state employees in Virginia has made it through subcommittee today. SB 701, authored by a coalition of LGBT groups, delegates, and senators, hopes to reintroduce equal protection measures for sexual orientation including gender identity – classes that were removed from the state code by current Governor Bob Mcdonnell.
Equality Virginia had lobbied hard to get the bill this far, collecting over 11,000 signatures in support. 400 of those signatures went to Senator Walter Stosch’s district and EV had hoped this would sway his vote. But during discussions, Sen. Stosch made clear his plans to not support the bill. “I agree with the governor… that if anyone displays discrimination… than they will be fired. I believe the current law that defends against ‘sex’ is powerful… I resent the notion that if you vote against it you’re some how being unfair.”
With Stosch’s comments came a look of dread upon the faces of SB701 supporters in the room. However, when it came to vote, Republican Senator Vogel said ‘I’ and the majority went to pushing the bill through to the Senate.
“We knew it would be an 8-7 vote,” Said EV’s Executive Director James Parrish. “We are very pleased Senator Vogel was the 8th vote – we had hoped Senator Stosch would be the 8th, but we will let Vogel’s constituents know, and we will be sure to let Stosch’s constituents know as well.”
SB701 still has little hope of making it through the republican dominated house, but getting the bill through subcommittee will force legislators to vote on the issue which will create a voting record for the public to decide on in the next election.