State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s Senate Bill 202, which would ban discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity, passed by a 29-10 vote margin. State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County)’s Senate Bill 423, which would add LGBT-specific protections to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law, passed by the same margin.
“It is gratifying to see it pass the Senate again and I look forward to bringing it over to the House,” said Wexton in a statement that she and Ebbin released. “This is not only an issue of fundamental fairness but also of economic viability. What business will want to come to Virginia when their employees can be denied housing because of whom they love or how they identify?”
Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement notes Friday’s vote is the third time in three years “a bipartisan coalition of Virginia senators voted to move Virginia forward by protecting LGBT people from discrimination.”
“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,” he said. “This is the latest evidence that Virginia is ready for equal opportunity for all.”
Human Rights Campaign National Field Director Marty Rouse also applauded the vote.
“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,” he said.
The vote took place less than two weeks after Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that bans discrimination against state employees based on their gender identity and expression.
SB 202 and SB 423 no go to the Virginia House of Delegates, which Republicans control by a 51-49 margin.
“We urge the House of Delegates to follow the Senate’s lead and move Virginia forward,” said Parrish.