“If you don’t try, you can’t win, so that’s why we’re going forward.” Said an optimistic Senator McEachin. He’s the author of SB701, a new bill that aims to update Virginia’s non-discrimination policy for state employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Spurred by the success of national pushes on LGBT issues, McEachin does have some hope for the push. “We’re coming off a great election cycle for progressives, and with the passage of pro-family marriage amendments, that wind is at our backs.
Additionally, he feels this issue isn’t an unreasonable request – “This is a, frankly, fair and honest attempt to get a measure of fairness in the state work force. I’d like to think this is not a heavy lift.”
Unfortunately, the past few years in VA politics can pretty much guarantee SB701 will tank before it gets out the door, and McEachin begrudgingly admits this.
“I anticipate we’ll be able to get 20 democratic senators to vote for this, the challenge will be getting out of committee, and all the committees are dominated by republicans.”
But McEachin knows what he is doing is the right thing for LGBT people. He wants to be remembered for having stood on the right side of the fence on this issue. “I feel strongly – anyone who opposes this bill is on the wrong side of history,” he said, “and history will either prove me right or prove me wrong.”
To further bludgeon the hope of this bill making its way into law, consider that even after Tim Kaine made a point to include veterans and sexual orientation in his updated discrimination policy, one of the FIRST things Gov. McDonnell did when he entered office was retract Kaine’s policy and remove sexual orientation from the list.
“It’s very difficult to get that education and get a reliable source of information for that education, almost the entire piece is about how a lot of queer education comes from the internet and while it’s a great source, it’s not alway the most reliable source.”