The Virginia Senate overwhelmingly passed the Virginia Values Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people, by a 30-9 margin.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), provides legal protections in public and private employment, credit, housing, and public accommodations for people who might otherwise be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The measure earned the support of nine Republicans, or nearly half the GOP caucus, and universal support from Senate Democrats.
The bill will now head to the House, which is expected to vote on its own version of the act this week. Once the Senate version is approved by the House, or vice versa, the Virginia Values Act will go to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), an LGBTQ ally, for his signature into law.
LGBTQ advocates have every reason to be optimistic about the bill’s prospects. A similar, though not identical bill from Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) that prohibits various forms of anti-LGBTQ discrimination — but specifically addresses discrimination in insurance, banking, public contracting, and apprenticeship programs — passed the House on Wednesday, 59-39.
Ebbin and other pro-LGBTQ legislators celebrated this significant step towards ensuring lived equality for all Virginians.
“The journey is not complete until every person; members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, religious minorities, and veterans are treated like anyone else under the law,” Ebbin said in a statement. “I am proud that my Senate colleagues understand that we have to move forward on this issue.”
“It is unacceptable that in 2020 people can be denied housing, employment, or public accommodations because of who they are and who they love,” Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) said in a statement. “We cannot say that we are a Commonwealth that is inclusive of all, and have such discriminatory practices on our books.”
“I am proud my Senate colleagues understand that it is time that we put an end to discriminatory practices based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) added. “As a parent of a member of the LGBTQ community and on behalf of all who have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ, it is time that Virginia becomes a place that is truly welcoming and open to all.”
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