Senators and LGBT organizers gathered at the Virginia General Assembly to announce and show support for SB701 – a law that would re-introduce sexual orientation into the list of protected classes for state employees.
“LGBT Virginians aren’t asking for special treatment, we are just asking for the right to work while we live an authentic life.” Said James Parish, the Executive Director of Equality Virginia. EV has been working with state representatives to help get the bill to the floor. They started an online petition that collected over 11,000 signatures supporting the bill.
James Parish – Equality VA’s Executive Director
One of bill’s chief patrons, and the only openly gay member of Virginia’s legislative body, Senator Adam Ebbin, spoke at today’s event and shared his personal connection to the bill. “In VA you can be fired for being LGBT – there is just nothing to stop it,” said Ebbin, “…and real people are moving away or deciding not to come here because of our lack of protections for LGBT Virginians. Its a loss for all of us.”
After openly-gay Tracy Thorne-Begland was appointed to a VA District Court Judge seat earlier this week, some wonder if the same conservative house that approved his appointment could do the same for this bill. Senator McEachin, another chief patron of SB 701 said “the education process that the house went through, in terms of being willing to change their mind about him… (it) certainly shows the house can change its mind and we’re not just throwing straws into the wind.”
Admittedly, the bills authors and EV realize the conservative base in Virginias House of Delgates is sure to quash the bill, but if it manages to get out of subcommittee, it will force a vote which will get elected officals on record over an issue that increasingly gains support from the states population.
SB701 made it on to the floor and through the senate 2 years ago, but failed to get out of subcommittee last year. EV and the patrons of the bill have worked hard to win over the conservative majority subcommittee on this issue. The results of their work will be seen when the bill gets brought up by the subcommittee on Monday afternoon.