Legislators, Community Leaders, Activists join to bring LGBTQ issues to forefront of 2014 General Assembly
This morning the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus announced they plan on bringing legislation that will end discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the Commonwealth.
“Virginia needs to be a place that’s welcoming, not just for gay and lesbian employees, but (also) for people who want to live in a state where gay and lesbian people are treated like first-class citizens,” said Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria).
Ebbin, Virginia’s first openly gay member of the General Assembly, looks to bring down the Marshall-Newman Amendment to Virginia’s constitution, which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman.
“It’s a very personal issue for hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are affected daily by this,” Ebbin said. He also read a letter from one of his constituents, who had to uproot her life so she could move to D.C. where she’s allowed to apply for second-parent adoption. Ebbin went on to bemoan Virginia’s inability to keep up with neighboring areas like Maryland and Washington D.C.
“It’s long past time that we eliminate the Marshall-Newman Amendment and the stain it leaves on our constitution. Our marriage laws are becoming more antiquated every day…We’re out of sync with federal law following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) announced a bill which would allow public colleges and universities to extend benefits to employees who have same-sex partners.
“I believe this (bill) has polled somewhere in the 80 percent range, so Virginians believe this ought to happen, and we certainly look forward to making this happen in this General Assembly session….The moral arc of the universe is finally bending in the right direction,” McEachin said.
Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) plans to bring a bill which would ban ex-gay therapy for minors.
“Reparative therapy is based on the false assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or a sin. There is no on or off switch for homosexuality,” Hope said.
“This has the support of the medial community. There is clear evidence that conversion therapy not only doesn’t work, but it can be very harmful psychologically.”
Hope said the risks that come with conversion therapy are great, and include depression, anxiety and suicide, citing the American Psychological Association.
However it wasn’t only legislators speaking about LGBTQ issues this morning.
Reverend Robin Gorsline, President of the People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, spoke on the intersection of religion and LGBT issues.
“Will we decide to take God at God’s word and accept – more than accept – celebrate and welcome the abundance in diversity in God’s human community, including our LGBT siblings, neighbors and friends?” Gorsline said.
“You may scoff that God has not yet joined together any gay or lesbian couples in Virginia, because you may believe only the Commonwealth of Virginia can empower a clergyperson to announce the words of unity. But it isn’t so. God joins people everyday – same gender coupes and different gender couples.”
Governor Terry McAuliffe was sworn into office on Saturday, and promptly signed his first executive order, which would ban discrimination against state employees based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, praised McAuliffe’s alacrity this morning.
“We took a big step in the right direction on Saturday when Governor Terry McAuliffe signed executive order one,” Parrish said.
“On behalf of Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, I would like to sincerely thank the governor.”
Those who spoke have their work cut out for them, as Virginia’s House of Delegates is currently Republican-dominated, but their faith is unwavering.
“I am not prepared to give up on the House,” Senator McEachin said. “I do believe Virginia is on an irreversible course towards equality for all of it’s citizens.”
Reverend Gorsline echoed that sentiment.
“We know that it’s not a matter of whether, it’s only a matter of when this plague of intolerance against LGBT Virginians, brought by their own government, will end.”
I’m a spring intern at RVA Mag and GayRVA. I recently got my degree in journalism from Virginia Tech, where I also wrote for the Collegiate Times newspaper. I spent the first half of my life as an impatient New Yorker, but I grew up here in Richmond, buying skateboards from Dominion, seeing shows at Alley Katz, and watching VCU Rams basketball games. I like everything bagels, wasting my money on clothes I don’t need, moombahton music, and cycling. I probably fell down putting on my pants this morning.
Openly gay legislators rally to remove defunct same-sex marriage bans from Virginia law and constitution
“There are a number of Republicans, even those are against LGBT equality, who do accept that fact that the Virginia state code books should say what is the law and not what isn’t the law…”October 19, 2016
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