Virginia Senate Committee Advances Two Non-Discrimination Bills, Building Momentum for Statewide ProtectionsBy Shane Stahl • January 23, 2018 • 12:31 pm
Late Monday afternoon, the Virginia Senate General Laws Committee approved two bills that would prevent discrimination against LGBTQ people in both housing and public employment.
Senate Bill 202, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), passed by a vote of 12-3; the legislation would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in public employment. Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudon County) sponsored Senate Bill 423, which would add both sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing Virginia Fair Housing Code; this also passed with a vote of 12-3.
Previously, non-discrimination bills have passed the State Senate three times, but have not advanced through the House of Delegates. However, legislative shake-ups as a result of the 2017 election have brought the balance of power in the House to an exact tie. Additionally, Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order on January 13 prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in state government; Ebbin’s bill would codify the order to apply to county and local government employment as well.
In the House, Representative Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) has introduced House Bill 401, which would provide comprehensive statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The bill is now before the House of Delegates’ General Laws Committee. Currently, Virginia is one of 32 states without full protections for LGBTQ people.