Virginia Senate Passes LGBTQ Protections with Bipartisan Support

January 18, 2019 • 11:41 am

January 18, 2018
Hannah Willard

Virginia Senate Passes LGBTQ Protections with Bipartisan Support

RICHMOND – For the fourth consecutive year, two bipartisan bills to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination passed the Virginia Senate. Both nondiscrimination bills passed with strong bipartisan support – with a 33-7 vote on housing (SB 1109) and a 28-12 vote on public employment (SB 998). These bills are expected to be taken up by the House Rules Committee within the next two weeks. Freedom for all Americans (FFAA) is working with Equality Virginia to advance nondiscrimination protections in the Commonwealth this year.

“LGBTQ equality is not about partisan politics – it’s about people,” said Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans. “For four years in a row, Republican and Democratic senators in Virginia have led by example by voting to move equality forward in the Commonwealth for all of their constituents. It’s time for the Virginia House of Delegates to join elected leaders from all across the country – and all across the political spectrum – by taking action to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their daily lives.”

Despite consistent passage in the Virginia Senate, these bills 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.

New polling unveiled by Equality Virginia shows broad support among voters in Virginia for protecting LGBTQ Virginians from discrimination. The new polling occurred in back- to- back years, providing for a 12-month snapshot of Republican voter sentiment and was conducted by The Tarrance Group and Mason-Dixon, respectively. Both polls found that a strong majority of voters support protections for LGBTQ Virginians in housing and public employment, including majority support among self-identified Republican voters who have participated in at least 2 out of the past 4 primary elections. As the House prepares to take up these bills, this polling reveals that these protections are common-sense, supported by voters in both parties, and non-controversial.

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

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