State Watch

Virginia passes LGBTQ protections measure

Virginia lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation protecting residents of the state from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation after failing to pass the measure several times in recent years.

The Virginia Values Act on Thursday passed in the state's Democratic-majority House of Delegates. The chamber in years past had blocked the measure after it passed the Senate. In addition to sexual orientation, the measure bars discrimination based on gender identity or veteran status.

"Discrimination against our gay, lesbian and transgender friends, family, neighbors and co-workers in employment, housing and public accommodation has always been abhorrent and unacceptable," Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) said in a statement Thursday, the Washington Blade reported.

"Today, we have laid a marker down that every Virginian can work hard, earn a living wage, and live their lives without fear of discrimination based on who they are or who they love," she added.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has said he will sign a reconciled final version of the two measures passed by the chambers.

The LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign commented on the legislation's passing. 

"This day would not have been possible without the years and years of tireless work from advocates across the commonwealth, or the voters in Virginia that filled the halls of the General Assembly with pro-equality champions who fulfilled their promises," Human Rights Campaign President David Alphonso said in a statement.

"HRC is proud to have worked to elect pro-equality lawmakers across Virginia in 2019, and we are thrilled to see that effort culminate in this important victory today."

Delegate Danica Roem (D), who became the first trans woman elected to the state legislature in 2017 after defeating Delegate Bob Marshall (R) - the namesake of Virginia's 2006 anti-same-sex marriage constitutional amendment - also hailed the bill's passage on Twitter.

"Change has come. Welcome to Virginia," Roem tweeted Thursday.

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