News (USA)

Virginia advances LGBTQ rights as Republicans call for secession

Jerry Falwell was one of America's most notorious homophobes, and he founded Liberty University. His son, Jerry Falwell Jr, took over the school when his father passed away.
Jerry Falwell was one of America's most notorious homophobes, and he founded Liberty University. His son, Jerry Falwell Jr, took over the school when his father passed away. Photo: Shutterstock

In November, Democrats took control of the Virginia state legislature for the first time in 26 years. Since then they have been working quickly to pass a slew of progressive legislation, including several LGBTQ rights bills.

On January 21, alone, the Virginia Senate approved four bills that would improve the lives of LGBTQ Virginians.

Related: Was notorious homophobe Jerry Falwell Jr. blackmailed by his pool boy with ‘racy personal’ pics?

Senate Bill 161 requires schools to provide the proper ID cards for transgender students and allow them to use the appropriate bathroom; Senate Bill 245 bans conversion therapy for youth; Senate Bill 657 eases restrictions for trans residents to change their name and sex on their birth certificates; and Senate Bill 17 repeals a statutory ban on same-sex marriage that still exists in the state.

The bills are predicted to easily pass through Virginia’s House of Delegates, which also passed a resolution on Wednesday that officially recognizes the  Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th in Virginia.

The Democrat-controlled legislature is also pushing to increase minimum wage, expand reproductive rights, and invoke stricter gun laws — which led to a massive pro-gun rally at the Virginia Capitol last week.

Republicans are outraged by all of the change taking place in their state, so much so that some of them are calling for unhappy counties to secede and become part of West Virginia.

And this is not just coming from disgruntled Twitter users. The idea of secession, which was proposed at a press conference by evangelical President of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr, is supported by the Republican Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice.

“The palpable yearning in Virginia for a pathway to greater freedom with our family in West Virginia grows greater by the day,” Falwell Jr. said at the press conference.

He continued, “Many counties are taking a long hard look at escaping the barbaric, totalitarian, and corrupt democratic regime in Richmond that is trampling on individual rights throughout the state.”

Justice stood by Falwell’s side during his speech, adding, the Associated Press reported, “If you’re not truly happy where you are, we stand with open arms to take you from Virginia or anywhere you may be. We stand strongly behind the Second Amendment and we stand strongly for the unborn.”

While secession remains unlikely and necessitates approval from Congress as well as both Virginia and West Virginia, the AP reported that actual resolutions have been introduced by lawmakers in West Virginia to make it possible.

“This isn’t street theater,” conservative activist Rick Boyer told the AP. “We fully intend to do everything we can to see it through.”

Speaking to the AP, Virginia’s Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw called the idea of secession “preposterous.” Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger called it “a comedy routine.”

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