Virginia Lawmakers Advance LGBTQ Protections

January 15, 2019 • 8:17 am
WASHINGTON – Efforts to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in Virginia are advancing with bipartisan support. Yesterday, Virginia’s Senate General Laws committee approved bipartisan legislation to protect LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination in housing and public employment. Freedom for All Americans (FFAA) is partnering with Equality Virginia, the state’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, to advance nondiscrimination legislation this year.

“From coast to coast, the tides are turning in favor of equality,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “A bipartisan coalition of Virginia lawmakers voted to move equality forward in the commonwealth and took an important step towards making Virginia the first Southern state to pass these protections into law. It’s clear that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are coming together to affirm what we all know to be true: Our nation is at strongest when everyone is able to live their lives without the daily fear of discrimination.”

For the past three years in Virginia, the Republican-controlled Senate has passed two pieces of nondiscrimination legislation that would provide protections for LGBTQ Virginians in public employment and housing. The bills enjoy bipartisan support in the House of Delegates as well, though they have never reached the House floor for a vote. This year, Equality Virginia has worked with LGBTQ people and their allies across the state to build strong support in support of these bills, and local advocates are hopeful for secure passage of this legislation this year.

Bipartisan momentum for LGBTQ protections is building nationwide. In just the last four weeks, five governors signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees – including GOP Governors John Kasich (OH) and Rick Snyder (MI), and new Governors Mike DeWine (OH), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), and Tony Evers (WI). The new U.S. House majority has also indicated they plan to prioritize the Equality Act which would provide explicit and comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to all LGBTQ Americans.

FFAA’s work in the states is crucial to building support for federal nondiscrimination protections. In 2018, FFAA led successful campaigns that protected or advanced nondiscrimination protections for approximately 325,000 LGBTQ Americans. FFAA helped defend transgender nondiscrimination laws in Anchorage and Massachusetts, and led the successful effort to enact a transgender nondiscrimination law in New Hampshire. The LGBTQ movement learned valuable lessons in 2018 – from how to debunk the opposition’s scare tactics to how to win over more vulnerable supporters – that has positioned FFAA and our partners to hit the ground running in 2019.

Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; businesses large and small; people of faith; and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.

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