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Two anti-LGBTQ bills die in Va. Senate

Democrats maintain 21-19 majority in chamber

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Two anti-LGBTQ bills died in the Virginia Senate on Thursday.

A Senate Education subcommittee voted against state Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County)’s Senate Bill 20, which would have eliminated the requirement that school districts must implement the Virginia Department of Education’s transgender and non-binary student guidelines.

The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee in an 8-7 vote tabled state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 177, a religious freedom measure that critics contend would have allowed anti-LGBTQ discrimination in housing.

Virginia’s statewide nondiscrimination law includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Peake’s bill would have removed “the provision of the exemption for religious organizations under the Virginia Fair Housing Law that denies such exemption where the membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or disability.”

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office three days later.

Democrats, who maintain a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, have vowed to block any anti-LGBTQ bill.

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Virginia

Anti-LGBTQ religious freedom bill passes Va. House

Senate Democrats have vowed to defend LGBTQ rights

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday approved a religious freedom bill that critics say would allow anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the state.

House Bill 753, which state Del. Les Adams (R-Pittsylvania County) introduced, passed by a 54-45 vote margin.

“The bill exempts any place of accommodation owned by or operated on behalf of a religious corporation, association, or society from the nondiscrimination in public places of accommodation provisions of the Virginia Human Rights Act,” reads the bill. “Under current law, such places of accommodation are exempt only when not open to the public.”

“The bill also removes the provision of the exemption for religious organizations under the Virginia Fair Housing Law that denies such exemption where the membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status or disability,” adds HB 753.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director Cathryn Oakley in a statement criticized HB 753’s passage.

“Anti-equality legislators in Virginia have repeatedly pushed legislation this session that would allow discrimination including against LGBTQ+ individuals,” said Oakley. “These repeated efforts have been especially prevalent in the House of Delegates, which has a slim anti-equality majority following last year’s election.  The latest example is HB 753, which would allow religion-based discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics.”

Republicans last November regained control of the House. Democrats maintain a 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate.

Senate Democrats have vowed to block any anti-LGBTQ bill that comes before them.

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