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Virginia Senate approves LGBT protections bill for state employees

Friday, January 25, 2013
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RICHMOND, Va. – A measure to protect Virginia’s LGBT state employees from workplace discrimination, passed in the state Senate on Friday, and now moves forward to the House of Delegates.

The bill, SB 701, was introduced by state Sens. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) and Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington), and extends protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 24-16.

“We’re going to press forward with this momentum,” said Ebbin. “No state employee should ever doubt Virginia’s commitment to equal opportunity employment for all. This assures state employees that they will be judged solely on their merits and that discrimination has no place in Virginia.”

The bill has received support from 46 co-patrons in both in the House and Senate.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, said it has recorded over 11,000 messages being sent in the past two months to the General Assembly in support of SB701 from citizens across the Commonwealth.

“SB 701 is about fairness and all Virginians deserve equal opportunity, justice and fairness,” McEachin said. “The people must continue to lead the legislature and remind the House that Virginia is an open state and welcoming to all folks as we move this bill ahead.”

Of Virginia’s top 25 private employers, 80 percent have policies protecting at least sexual orientation and 60 percent also protect gender identity and expression.

“In Virginia, LGBT protections will not pass without bi-partisan support. We are pleased that four Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in passing SB701 to protect LGBT state employees,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said. “In the private sector, workplace protections are shown to decrease legal vulnerability while enhancing the employer’s reputation, increasing job satisfaction and boosting employee morale and productivity.”

The bill was approved Monday by the General Laws and Technology Committee by a narrow vote of 8-7.

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