A bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity took effect on Wednesday in Virginia.

Virginia is the first Southern state to enact such a law.

Republicans, who had previously blocked passage of the Virginia Values Act, lost control of the General Assembly in November, opening the door for passage of several LGBT rights bills, including the Virginia Values Act.

Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed the bill into law on April 11.

In a video for Global Pride, an online celebration of LGBT Pride that took place on Saturday, Northam applauded the measure.

“This victory shows the world that with grit, determination, heart, and purpose, we can achieve the civil rights that LGBTQ people need and deserve,” Northam said.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, cheered the bill's enactment.

“Today is a day that LGBTQ Virginians – and people of color, people of faith, immigrants, women, and more – have been awaiting for decades. Now, they will finally be legally protected from discrimination at work and in their communities,” David said in a statement.

The Virginia Values Act prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations. A Supreme Court decision handed down last month expanded similar protections in employment.

(Related: Following SCOTUS ruling on LGBT rights, Obama tweets “Happy Pride Month.”)