Nondiscrimination in VA: Right Results, Wrong Reasons
Fight on Principle, Not Pragmatics
The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus issued a press release on January 25, 2011 supporting nondiscrimination legislation in the 2011 General Assembly. Although their goal is laudable, their arguments are weak.
The press release described SB747, patroned by Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) to ensure that a state employee’s sexuality (actual or perceived) would not be grounds for termination. A similar bill was passed in the Senate in 2010 but was killed in the House.
The press release also cited support from Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mary Margaret Whipple. She said, “During such a tough economic times [sic], no Virginian should have to worry about possible threats to their job because of their sexual orientation. Today, I am urging to Governor McDonald to put his support behind this bill and use his influence with House Republicans to ensure its passage.”
Although Sen. Whipple is in support of a rights-respecting bill, she should focus on the principles, introducing pragmatic reasons only as supporting arguments. The principles upon which the United States was founded call for respect for individual rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The principle of individual rights mandates that all people should be able to live freely and equally, as long as their actions don’t violate the rights of others. By this principle, our governments (federal or state) are fully wrong to judge a state employee by any measure except their work performance and adherence to rights-respecting laws of the land.
To argue that this bill is necessary during tough economic times assumes that it would be fine if times were booming. If an employee could easily find another job, this statement implies, then it would be okay to fire them because of their sexual orientation.
It will be cause for celebration if this bill passes, but if we want to ensure that our Commonwealth and our nation continue marching towards greater respect for individual rights, we need to fight for the right principles. We need to keep drilling into the hearts and minds of supporters and foes alike the principles that demand respect for the rights of all individuals.
Similarly, Virginia Republicans should be looking at the principles that they claim to support. As the Republican Party of Virginia creed states, “We Believe … That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society.”
As we fight for what’s right, let’s keep our eyes on the principles, reinforcing throughout the land individual rights and respect for all.
Photo Credit: Adam Ebbin’s Office
Annie Tobey is a freelance writer and editor living in Richmond, Virginia. For six years, she’s shared her philosophical passions through V Magazine for Women, combining love for life, the diversity of women, and a celebration of success in all its forms, on the printed page and online, now at www.MyVMagazine.com. She also shares her joie de vivre as a travel writer at www.ActiveWomanTraveler.com. She welcomes freelance opportunities for writing and editing, helping businesses present a polished written message that builds a quality brand. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two bills that would allow businesses to discriminate against Virginia’s LGBTQ community were joined into one Senate bill Monday afternoon in Senate General Laws and Technology subcommittee. While a House version of the bill, HB 773, was heard today, the subcommittee joined it with SB 41 by a 8-7 vote across party lines. SB 41, introduced [...]February 22, 2016
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