Va. House Subcommittee approves Nondiscrimination Bill

The Virginia State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(WB) A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Thursday voted 5-1 to advance a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

The House General Laws Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Virginia Values Act. The Virginia Senate a day later is expected to consider a companion bill.

“We can all agree that discrimination is wrong and has no place in the commonwealth,” said state Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax County), who introduced the Virginia Values Act in the House, in a press release. “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,” he added.

The Senate version of the bill was referred to the Senate General Laws Committee this week.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), said it was important to “shine a light on this issue” of anti-LGBTQ discrimination “until we drive it out of our state.”

“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 these protections. 

The Virginia Values Act has broad support with Gov. Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County), among others.

“These protections are long overdue and an important step forward for Virginia’s LGBTQ community,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck.