Sunday, March 26, 2023

Virginia Values Act Advances After House Vote

Yesterday, a House subcommittee voted 5-1 to advance the Virginia Values Act, House Bill 1663. The bill sponsored by Del. Mark Sickles (D-Alexandria) would modernize Virginia’s existing human rights laws and prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Virginians. 

The bill now moves from the House General Laws Housing/Consumer Protection Subcommittee to the House General Laws Committee, where it is expected to be heard on Tuesday. 

“We can all agree that discrimination is wrong and has no place in the Commonwealth,” said Del. Sickles. “All Virginians deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, including LGBTQ people. I am proud to work with my colleagues to pass the Virginia Values Act and send a message that the Commonwealth is a safe and welcoming place for all people.”

The Virginia Values Act has broad support among lawmakers. Governor Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw have all pledged that passing comprehensive protections for LGBTQ Virginians in employment, housing and public spaces is a top priority for the current General Assembly.

“As the bills move through the General Assembly, the Virginia Values Coalition remains confident lawmakers will do the right thing and quickly pass this legislation to protect LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces,” said James Parrish, Director of the Virginia Values Coalition, a group of statewide and national organizations and individuals pushing for the protections. “Every Virginian deserves to live and work without the fear of harassment, discrimination, or violence.”

“These protections are long overdue and an important step forward for Virginia’s LGBTQ community,” said Vee Lamneck, Equality Virginia, Executive Director. “The Virginia Values Act will ensure LGBTQ people are treated fairly and equitably by the laws of the state and have the opportunity to earn a living, access housing and healthcare, and participate fully in society.”

The companion Senate Bill 868 sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) is expected to be heard by the Senate General Laws Committee on Wednesday.

“In Virginia, although a gay couple can get married on Sunday, the sad reality is they can get fired on Monday, evicted on Tuesday morning, and denied a hotel room Tuesday night,” Sen. Ebbin said. “This isn’t a theoretical issue, discrimination is happening today. Until we shine a light on this issue, until we drive it out of our state, Virginians will continue to suffer psychological, physical, and economic vandalism simply because of who they are or who they love.”

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