January 21, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. lawmakers to consider anti-LGBT discrimination bill

Adam Ebbin, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin is a Senate Bill 710 co-sponsor (Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin)

A Virginia Senate committee on Monday is expected to debate a proposal that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination against state employees.

“Senate Bill 701 is about fairness,” state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico,) who co-sponsored the measure alongside gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria,) said during a Jan. 17 press conference in Richmond ahead of the scheduled hearing on SB 701 in the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology. “Virginians are about fairness and there should be no visible discrimination in our state workforce. Virginia is better than what we’ve shown in this regard.”

Ebbin noted former Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine signed executive orders that banned anti-gay discrimination against state employees. Governor Bob McDonnell has not followed suit.

“In Virginia, you can be fired for being lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender,” Ebbin said. “There’s just nothing to stop it and real people are moving away or deciding not to come here because of our lack of protections for LGBT Virginians. That’s a loss for all of us and it’s a loss that I’ve heard from personally from friends who don’t want to come here or people who have left. It’s a fundamental American value that tax paying individuals who work hard should not be discriminated against in the workplace because of who they are and it makes good business sense as [Equality Virginia Executive Director] James [Parrish] said to have non-discrimination policies.”

The state Senate in 2010 and 2011 passed bills similar to SB 701 twice, but they both stalled in the House of Delegates.

The proposal currently has 45 co-sponsors in both legislative chambers, but Parrish conceded to the Washington Blade during an interview late last year that SB 701’s chances of passing in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates this year are “very slim.”

“It’s time that the state catches up with the business community and 90 percent of Virginians who believe that gays and lesbians have the right to work in the government without discrimination,” Parrish said during the Jan. 17 press conference. “Protecting LGBT employees and especially job security is a timely and important issue for all Virginians. LGBT Virginians aren’t asking for special treatment. We are just asking for the right to work while living an authentic life.”

Susie Corbett of Mothers and Others of Virginia agreed as she referenced her gay son whom she said is currently looking for a job in Richmond.

“In the current economy that could be difficult,” she said. “It scares me to think that the state of Virginia might add homophobia to his hurdles because that is just old fashioned discrimination and it is time for Virginia to join the 21st century.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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