Va. Senate passes four LGBTQ rights bills


The Virginia State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate on Tuesday approved four LGBTQ rights bills.

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Senate Bill 245, which state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) introduced, would prohibit any health care provider or counselor in Virginia from practicing so-called conversion therapy. The measure passed by a 20-18 vote margin.

“We’re thrilled to see the Virginia Senate
pass this bill protecting LGBTQ youth from this harmful practice,” Equality
Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck told the Washington Blade during a
telephone call.

Previous versions of the bill have been
introduced since 2016, but consistently failed to pass the Senate.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 161, a measure sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax County) that would require school boards to adopt policies to ensure transgender students have equal access to school facilities and appropriate ID cards. SB 161 would also address harassment.

The measure passed by a 24-15 vote margin.

“Today, the Virginia Senate clearly demonstrated their commitment to ensuring that Virginia’s public schools are equipped to support all students with an equal education, including transgender students,” said Lamneck.

The Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill
657, a bill introduced by Boysko that would allow trans Virginias to update
their name and sex on their birth certificate, by a 24-15 vote margin. Senate
Bill 17, a measure introduced by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) that
would repeal Virginia’s statutory same-sex marriage ban, passed by a 25-13 vote
margin.

Equality Virginia: Majority of Virginians support nondiscrimination bill

The Senate General Laws Committee on Wednesday
will hear testimony on Senate Bill 868, a bill known as the Virginia Values Act
that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s
nondiscrimination laws.

Ebbin and state Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax
County), who are both openly gay, introduced versions of the Virginia Values
Act in the Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates.

“It’s extremely troubling that Virginians are
fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and turned away from places
like restaurants, shops and even doctor’s offices because they’re LGBTQ,” said Lamneck.
“The Virginia Values Act modernizes existing Virginia law to protect LGBTQ
people from discrimination in their daily lives.”

Twenty-five states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 21 states prohibit it based on gender identity.

“This legislation creates a critical update to Virginia law and sends a clear message that the commonwealth is a safe and welcoming place for all people,” said James Parrish, director of the Virginia Values Coalition, a group of local and national LGBTQ organizations that support the Virginia Values Act.

Governor Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax County) all support the bill. Democrats have made it a top priority for the 2020 legislative session.

“Passing nondiscrimination protections for
LGBTQ Virginians has overwhelming support among voters,” Lamneck said, noting
78 percent of Virginians support these protections in the workplace as well.

The post Va. Senate passes four LGBTQ rights bills appeared first on Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights.

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