Bill protecting Virginia LGBT state employees killed in House subcommittee

Bill protecting Virginia LGBT state employees killed in House subcommittee

RICHMOND, Va. – A measure to protect Virginia’s LGBT state employees from workplace discrimination, was killed by a state House subcommittee on Tuesday.

The vote in the House General Laws Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process Subcommittee was 6-1, with one Delegate abstaining.

Subcommittee members (from left): Dels. Peter Farrell, Christopher Peace, Todd Gilbert, a legislative aide, and chair Barry Knight, who all voted against SB 701.

The bill (SB 701) introduced by state Sens. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) and Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington), would have extended protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in addition to other federal standards into the state code.

The bill was approved by the Senate last month.

Del. Todd Gilbert (R) was the only member of the subcommittee to speak in opposition of the bill, and expressed concern over the lack of known cases of LGBT discrimination.

“There has not been a single example of someone who has been discriminated against in public employment… other than that abstract fear we’ve heard testified to today,” said Gilbert.

Other opponents of the bill who spoke at the meeting echoed this sentiment.

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Chris Freund, from the Family Foundation said, “There’s no evidence, what so ever, that discrimination is taking place. We usually pass laws when problems need to be solved, and there hasn’t been a problem (with discrimination) in Virginia.”

“State employees must now go another year without workplace protections,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, in a statement.

Parrish called today’s vote a disappointment, but not a surprise.

“That committee has always been difficult because it’s always been stacked with Republican delegates who do not want to recognize LGBT equality in the state.” said Parrish, who promised to be back next year to fight for this issue again.

“It’s downright disrespectful that this subcommittee did not listen to the thousands of Virginians that messaged their Delegates and Senators over the past two months in support of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees,” said Parrish.

The bill had received support from 46 co-patrons in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Equality Virginia reports that the General Assembly had received over 12,000 constituent messages in support of the legislation.

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