New bills aim to protect all LGBTQ Virginians in public jobs
It’s still legal to fire or not hire someone because of who they love in the state of Virginia unless new bills pass through the General Assembly this year.
SB 1181 and SB 785, two bills dealing with nondiscrimination in public employment, hopes to expand the protected classes in all public jobs, from teachers to city and state employees, to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The two bills are authored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond) (top image).
Currently, the law only includes race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
“It is past time for the legislature to enact protections against discrimination for all state and local workers, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers,” said the Virginia ACLU in a statement on their RichmondSunlight page.
Equality Virginia (EV) echoed this sentiment saying workplace protections for LGBTQ Virginians was the organization’s number one priority this GA session.
“People shouldn’t be fired, not hired, or threatened at work for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said James Parish on EV’s GA website. “Seventy five percent of Virginians favor a law that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, and it’s time for our laws to catch up.”
Virginia’s LGBTQ state employees are currently protected by Gov. McAuliffe’s Executive Order 1 which expanded protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Executive Order 1 was signed the first day McAuliffe took office and was part of his campaign promise to support sexual minorities in the Commonwealth.
McAuliffe spoke at a recent EV event honoring private Fortune 500 businesses in Richmond with inclusive workplace policies.
“My job as governor is to create the new Virginia economy,” Gov. McAuliffe said. “We’ve got to create jobs. We cannot do it if we put walls up. We cannot pick and choose who or what businesses we want. I want everyone in Virginia.”
This is not the first time elected officials have hoped to expand protections.
Rev. Eddy Aliff of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists was the only person to speak against the bill back in 2014.
“A judge in another state said there are times when religious groups must give up their rights in order to protect others. I believe this will elevate these protections above religious protections. We’re gonna produce a laundry list. This laundry list may include pedophilia, bestiality and so on,” Aliff said.
In 2013, a similar workplace protection bill passed the Senate subcommittee and made it out of the Senate floor, but failed to make it out of the House subcommittee.
Sen. Ebbin’s Bill, SB 1181, is due in committee early next week. GayRVA will be at the meeting and follow up as the story develops.
Editors note: This story originally included private employees in those who would be protected, it’s only “public and state.” We’ve updated the article to correct this issue.
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