Update: Gov. McAuliffe promises to veto proposed “bathroom bill”
Update 1/4 – 3 PM - Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has promised to veto a proposed bill that would allow people to sue the state if they found a transgender person in the restroom.
“Governor McAuliffe has been clear that he will veto any bill that restricts the rights of Virginians based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said McAuliffe’s Communications Director Brian Coy. The governor has long touted Virginia as a welcoming, business and LGBTQ friendly environment for people to work and play. “As we saw in North Carolina, these bills don’t just hamper civil rights – they kill jobs. The Governor is hopeful that Republicans in the General Assembly will drop these counterproductive bills and turn their focus toward building a stronger and more equal Virginia economy.”
McAuliffe’s history of supporting LGBTQ issues is almost as long as Del. Bob Marshall’s history of opposing them. He protected state LGBTQ employees with his first executive order and has supported a state-wide tourism campaign aimed at attracting sexual minority visitors to the Commonwealth. He also, for the first time last year, issued a proclamation supporting the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
The author of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage has submitted a bill which mirrors North Carolina’s bathroom bill, but adds even more which advocates say could harm LGBTQ students in schools.
HB1612, the Physical Privacy Act, authored by Del. Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas), states “no individual shall enter a restroom or other facility designated for use by members of the opposite sex” with sex defined as the gender marked on the person’s “original birth certificate.” The bill also creates a “civil cause of action” against the state if a person encounters someone of the opposite sex in the restroom, meaning someone could sue the state if they found someone of the perceived opposite gender in the restroom.
The bill goes further than just bathrooms – it also requires principals of public schools to notify a parent or legal guardian within 24 hours if their student “requests to be recognized or treated as the opposite sex, to use a name or pronoun inconsistent with the child’s sex, or to use a restroom or other facility designated for the opposite sex.”
Del. Bob Marshall is the famed co-author of Virginia’s now defunct ban on same-sex marriage. He’s also worked to roll back protections public schools have offered LGBTQ students and teachers in the wake of a legal opinion supported by AG Mark Herring two years ago which allowed the creation of such protections without General Assembly approval.
Marshall’s attempts to suppress LGBTQ folks is a bit too long to list here (check here for more), but the Physical Privacy Act is unique in that it not only limits bathroom use, it also creates a structure to sue the state if the policy is violated.
“Our General Assembly convenes next Wednesday and their number one job should be tackling a billion dollar budget shortfall. The priority should be finding ways to invest in education, transportation, and jobs, NOT targeting transgender Virginians,” wrote Equality Virginia’s Executive Director James Parrish in a statement sent out this AM responding to Marshall’s bill. He pointed to a Forbes story that estimated the damage from North Carolina’s similar bathroom, as much as $600 million.
“While HB2 was going on, Costar chose Richmond and brought over 700 jobs to Richmond,” said Parrish. Internal emails between Costar and North Carolina’s economic authority showed the company took great issue with the state’s discriminatory law.
Attempts to pass similar legislation in the Commonwealth have failed.
Last year, Del. Mark Cole submitted a bill which would have required the state and public school system to develop a policy associating bathroom use with ones “biological sex.” The bill was defeated in committee after concerns around legislating an issue currently facing the Supreme Court, in this case Gavin Grimm Vs. Gloucester County. The bill’s committee hearing also featured testimony from numerous members of Virginia’s transgender community concerned with how such legislation would impact their lives.
This is an breaking story, more updates will be added as they come in.
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