The Virginia Senate moved forward Thursday with the second reading and introduction of amendments for SB701, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, setting it up for a vote on Friday, Jan. 25.
SB701 passed on an 8-7 vote out of the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology Monday evening, when Republican Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester, Frederick, Clarke, Fauquier, Loudoun and Stafford counties) joined the seven Democrats on the committee in agreeing to send the bill to the full Senate chamber.
In accordance with Virginia law, the bill was read once on Wednesday and for a second time Thursday. Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond, Henrico, Charles City counties), one of the bill’s co-patrons along with out gay Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax counties), the General Assembly's only out legislator, offered an amendment making small, technical changes to the bill but did not change its substance. McEachin’s amendment was agreed to by all 40 senators, setting the bill up for its third and final reading Friday, after which the Senate will vote on the measure.
The chances for the bill’s passage will depend on keeping the Democratic caucus united in an evenly divided Senate. If Vogel and the Senate’s 20 Democrats hold firm, the bill will pass the upper chamber before being sent to the House of Delegates, which Republicans control by a 68-32 margin.
[Photo: Sen. A. Donald McEachin, one of the co-patrons of SB701 (courtesy of the Virginia General Assembly).]