Lay of the Legislative Land

Virginia Senate Leads House in Support for Nondiscrimination Pledge

Equality Virginia last month released a scorecard listing where Virginia legislators stand when it comes to anti-LGBT discrimination. Among the specific items on which legislators were scored was whether or not they’d signed an Equality Virginia statement pledging not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in their office hiring.

That statement is similar to a proposed antidiscrimination state bill, SB701.

According to the scorecard, 17 of Virginia’s 20 Democratic senators have pledged not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Three remaining three – Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth, Surry, Sussex counties); Phil Puckett (D-Tazewell, Wise counties, Norton, Radford); and Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax, Falls Church) – have issued statements supporting nondiscrimination, but did not specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among Senate Republicans, five have made the nondiscrimination pledge; one offered a nonspecific pledge; and 14 have not issued any statements on the issue.

The House of Delegates remains largely opposed to such protections, though the minority Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of the protections. Among Democrats, 25 of 31 delegates support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people; three have issued generic statements promising they will not discriminate in hiring; and three others – Luke Torian (D-Prince William Co.), Roslyn Tyler (D-Greensville, Dinwiddie counties, Emporia, Franklin) and Kenneth James (D-Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth) – refused to issue any statement opposing discrimination.

Among House Republicans, 10 of 67 issued made the specific pledge; 10 issued generic nondiscrimination statements; and 47 declined to support nondiscrimination. The chamber’s sole independent, Lacey Putney (Bedford, Allegheny counties) also issued a nonspecific nondiscrimination statement.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com