Workplace protections for Virginia’s LGBTQ public employees delayed
A bill hoping to protect all of Virginia’s LGBTQ public employees was deferred to a future meeting today.
The Senate General Laws and Technology committee heard SB 785 , patroned by Sen. McEachin (D-9), and came to a tied 7-7 vote on the issue which would have added sexual orientation (SO) and gender identity (GI) to the list of protected classes in Virginia’s public workforce.
McEachin opened the comment period saying past Governors in Virginia had done good work to support expanding protected classes for state employment, and passing this bill would help codify the recent changes into law.
“The passage of the bill… would be an exclamation point on what they’ve done,” said McEachin of the past governor’s work.
Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 1 his first day in office. This added SO and GI to the list of protected classes, however executive orders can be repealed by incumbent Governors.
This was the case when former Gov. Tim Kaine added SO and GI, only to have McDonnell remove the two classes and add veteran status.
“Virginia’s leading employers all include sexual orientation when protecting their employees,” said Equality Virginia’s Executive Director James Parrish. “We think the state should set an example by doing the same thing.”
EV, The state’s largest LGBTQ equality org, had made workplace protections their top priority for the 2015 General Assembly session.
Other voices of support for the bill included Joe Vidulich from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. He said his group supports the bill because the “qualifications for work should be based on the individuals and their abilities, not anything to get in the way of that… it should be the position of the commonwealth.”
Opposition was also present for the committee hearing.
Chris Freund, of the VA-based Christian organization The Family Foundation, said a lack of federal mandate from the Supreme Court, and a lack of Congressional recognition for SO and GI made this bill irrelevant.
“There’s no statistics that shows there’s a problem,” said Freund. “So we urge you to not pass this legislation.”
The next date for the bills hearing is not yet announced, though it should be heard again during the 2015 GA session.
GayRVA will update as information comes in.
Colgan - absent
Photos by Victoria Zawitkowski, written by Brad Kutner and Victoria Zawitkowski
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