Two bills which survived full votes on the Senate floor and would have added protections for Virginia’s LGBTQ community were killed in a House subcommittee today.
SB 12 aimed to curb discrimination in the public work force (state employees) by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in.
SB 67 would have added similar language to the list of protected classes in housing nondiscrimination laws.
The bills were sent to the House Codes Commission, the same fate faced by several pro and anti LGBTQ bills earlier this session. Clair Gastanaga of the VA ACLU said she had seen this procedural move before in the 80′s when the state didn’t want to address HIV/AIDS related issues – they sent them to committee outside the regular session, essentially killing them.
However when the earlier house bills were killed, those who showed up to testify were given a chance to speak. That courtesy, according to McEachin, was not extended this time around.
“I am extremely disappointed at this precipitous action by a House subcommittee,” said Sen. Donald McEachin, one of the sponsors of SB 12. “The bill didn’t even get a fair hearing. But, more importantly, many Virginians are left all too vulnerable, subject to discrimination and bigotry. This is unacceptable. Employment and promotion should be based on job performance not on any other characteristic.”
“EV does not believe that either of these substantive bills will be taken up by the Code Commission but we do look forward to a definitive ruling this year so that these important bills, which enjoy broad bipartisan support in the Senate, will receive a proper hearing in the House of Delegates,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia.
This marks the end of any pro-LGBTQ legislation for the rest of the 2016 General Assembly. Two bills which would legalize discrimination agianst LGBTQs in the Commonwealth are still scheduled to be heard before a Senate Subcommittee in the coming weeks.
Top image ; Sen. Donald McEachin and Sen. Adam Ebbin defending their employment protections bill before a Senate subcommittee earlier this session.