Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on March 19 signed a bill that establishes an executive level LGBTQ advisory board.
“We are making tremendous progress on the issues that matter most to Virginians, from health care and education to economic opportunity and our environment,” Northam said in a press release, which announced a series of equity-related measures he signed. “I am proud to sign these bills into law, and I look forward to continuing our work together to support families and small businesses and build a more welcoming, inclusive commonwealth.”
House Bill 2130, sponsored by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington and Fairfax Counties), establishes the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the governor on the economic, professional, cultural, educational and governmental issues. The new law states the board will consist of 21 governor-appointed citizen members, with at least 15 of them identifying as LGBTQ.
Current advisory boards include the Virginia African American Advisory Board, the Virginia Asian Advisory Board, the Virginia Council on Women and the Virginia Latino Advisory Board. These board members also advise the state’s executive branch on issues important to their communities.
“For the FIRST time, we will have a statewide advisory board to help guide our state on policy & outreach to LGBTQ+ Virginians,” Lopez tweeted on Feb. 22 after the General Assembly approved the bill. “Virginia is for ALL lovers!”
Other equity-related bills Northam signed on March 19 include one that orders the removal of a statue of former governor and avid segregationist Harry Byrd, Sr., from Capitol Square in Richmond, another that requires state agencies to establish diversity plans and a third that authorizes the renaming of a section of Lee Highway in Arlington County.
The LGBTQ Advisory Board law goes into effect July 1.