The Virginia Senate on Friday approved
two bills that seek to protect LGBT Virginians.
Senate Bill 423 would prohibit housing
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while
Senate Bill 202 would prohibit discrimination in state employment,
including LGBT Virginians who work in local government and public
school districts. (Similar employee protections are currently
offered through an executive order signed by Governor Ralph Northam.)
LGBT activists applauded the move.
“For the third year in a row, a
bipartisan coalition of Virginia Senators voted to move Virginia
forward by protecting LGBT people from discrimination,” James
Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a
statement. “This vote affirms what Virginians already know to be
true: that our state is at its strongest when we’re all free to
live our lives without fear of discrimination. This is the latest
evidence that Virginia is ready for equal opportunity for all. We
urge the House of Delegates to follow the Senate’s lead and move
“Today, the Virginia Senate stood up
for fairness and equality by voting to make the commonwealth a more
welcoming and inclusive place for all Virginians, including LGBTQ
people,” HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said in a
statement. “It’s essential for the future of Virginia that the
newly elected House of Delegates move swiftly to ensure these
long-overdue protections are passed and sent to Governor Northam to
be signed into law. These are basic non-discrimination protections
that LGBTQ Virginians need and deserve.”
The legislation now heads to the House
of Delegates, which could take up the bills as early as February 14.
While Republicans still control the
House, the party lost a significant number of seats during the last
election cycle and currently only holds a two-seat majority.