HB1617 Passes House, Tell Senate “STOP!”

The bill that will allow discrimination in our public university student groups just passed the house today. While the First Amendment protects the right of student organizations to hold and advocate whatever ideas they choose, their discriminatory acts should not be entitled to government recognition and funding.

Tell your Senator to STOP HB1617 and that discrimination has no place in publicly funded student organizations.  It protects the organization and not the student!

See the vote count below:

YEAS–Albo, Anderson, BaCote, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bulova, Byron, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Dance, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Filler-Corn, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Herring, Hodges, Hugo, Iaquinto, Ingram, Joannou, Johnson, Jones, Keam, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LeMunyon, Lewis, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, May, Merricks, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, O’Bannon, O’Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pogge, Poindexter, Purkey, Putney, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Rust, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Spruill, Stolle, Tata, Tyler, Villanueva, Ware, O., Ware, R.L., Watson, Watts, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker–80.

NAYS–Brink, Carr, Hester, Hope, Howell, A.T., James, Kory, Krupicka, Lopez, McClellan, McQuinn, Morrissey, Plum, Scott, J.M., Sickles, Surovell, Torian, Toscano, Ward–19.

Day of Action Workshop Presentations

If you attended Tuesday’s Day of Action, you have the opportunity to download the presentations or find more information at the links below.

Family Formation, Protection and Preservation for LGBT Families in VA
Family law expert Colleen Quinn discusses the opportunities and challenges for Virginia residents including adoption and assisted reproductive technologies. This workshop also focuses on options available to Virginia’s LGBT families in protecting and preserving themselves as a recognized “family.”

Naming and Preventing Sexual Assault in LGBTQ Communities
Sexual violence happens in our community and in our relationships. Join the VA Anti-Violence Project to discuss this often taboo topic and learn how to identify ways to bring awareness and prevention to the issue of sexual violence.
Visit The Virginia Anti-Violence Project

The Legal Landscape for LBGT Individuals, Couples and Families in Virginia
Richmond-based attorney Bary Hausrath provides a comprehensive overview of laws and legal case history impacting Virginia’s LGBT community including updates on developments over the past decade on issues ranging from adoption, marriage equality, hospital visitation, employment, hate crimes, and birth certificate modification.
Download the Powerpoint

How to be an Ally and Advocate for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People
Transgender Advocate Ted Heck teaches basic concepts and definitions around gender, how to interact in a respectful and supportive manner with trans folks, and how you can step-up for the “T” in LGBT.
Visit our transgender resources here.

LGBT Workplace Protection Bill Passes Virginia Senate

Bill’s Forward Movement Signals Progress for Virginia’s LGBT Community

Richmond, VA – Senate Bill 701, a measure to protect Virginia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees from workplace discrimination, passed today with a 24-16 vote in the Senate.  Now, the bill moves forward to the House of Delegates.

“We’re going to press forward with this momentum,” said Senator Adam Ebbin, a chief patron of the bill. “No state employee should ever doubt Virginia’s commitment to equal opportunity employment for all. This assures state employees that they will be judged solely on their merits and that discrimination has no place in Virginia.”

The bill, introduced by Senator Donald McEachin and Senator Ebbin extends protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The bill has received support from 46 co-patrons in both in the House and Senate.  Equality Virginia has recorded over 11,000 messages being sent in the past two months to the General Assembly in support of SB701 from citizens across the Commonwealth.

“SB701 is about fairness and all Virginians deserve equal opportunity, justice and fairness,” McEachin said.  “The people must continue to lead the legislature and remind the House that Virginia is an open state and welcoming to all folks as we move this bill ahead.”

Of Virginia’s top 25 private employers, 80 percent have policies protecting at least sexual orientation and 60 percent also protect gender identity and expression.

“In Virginia, LGBT protections will not pass without bi-partisan support.  We are pleased that four Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in passing SB701 to protect LGBT state employees,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said.  “In the private sector, workplace protections are shown to decrease legal vulnerability while enhancing the employer’s reputation, increasing job satisfaction and boosting employee morale and productivity.”

Equality Virginia, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, hosts its annual Day of Action in Richmond on Tuesday, Jan. 29 giving its membership an opportunity to speak with members of the House of Delegates about this legislation.

“Making sure elected official hear LGBT issues are important to all Virginians is the most important thing any citizen can do to open hearts and minds across the state,” Parrish adds. “We’re very fortunate the Senators that voted in support today are listening to their constituents.”

YEAS: A. Donald McEachin, Adam P. Ebbin, Kenneth C. Alexander, George L. Barker, R. Creigh Deeds, John S. Edwards, Barbara A. Favola, Mark R. Herring, Janet D. Howell, Mamie E. Locke, David W. Marsden, Henry L. Marsh III, John C. Miller, Ralph S. Northam, Phillip P. Puckett, Linda T. Puller, Richard L. Saslaw, Charles Colgan, Jill Holtzman Vogel, Chap Petersen, Louise L. Lucas, John Watkins, Thomas Norment, Frank Wagner

NAYS: Frank Ruff, Richard Black, Thomas Garrett, Stephen Martin, Bryce Reeves, Walter Stosch, Richard Stuart, Harry B. Blevins, Charles W. Carrico, Emmett W. Hanger, Jr., Ryan McDougle, Jeffrey McWaters, Stephen D. Newman, Jr., Ralph Smith, William M. Stanley, Mark D. Obenshain

General Assembly Digest: 01.25.2013

SB701 Passes Senate! / Next Stop: House

Take a moment to celebrate today!  Because of you, SB701 just passed through the Senate.  This is only the third time a pro-LGBT bill has passed through either chamber of the General Assembly in the ENTIRE history of Virginia and you did this!

Passing SB701 out of the Senate was no easy task, but now — the real challenge begins.  We must build support in the House of Delegates to protect Virginia’s LGBT state employees.  Send your delegate a message NOW asking for them to vote YES on SB701.  While you’re at it, you can check to see how your senator voted today.

This is about fairness and protection for all Virginians.  Hard work doesn’t discriminate, so why should our government?

Can you keep this momentum going by joining with $10, $35 or more?  The next few weeks are key in winning this fight and we’ll need your help to get the word out.

Let’s move Virginia forward together!

Continue reading “General Assembly Digest: 01.25.2013”

Follow-up: James Finley Selected New Seattle U Volleyball Coach

Former Virginia Commonwealth University Women’s Volleyball Coach James Finley has been named head volleyball coach at Seattle University.  In November, Finley alleged that his contract was not renewed because he is an out gay man leading to an investigation from VCU.   Equality Virginia’s statement and follow-ups are posted here.

From Press Release:

James Finley
James Finley

SEATTLE, Wash. – Bill Hogan, Seattle University Director of Athletics, announced today that James Finley will be the new head volleyball coach of the Redhawks, effective Feb. 1, 2013.

Finley served as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University for the past eight years, compiling a 151-116 (.566) record since 2005. He led the Rams to four conference championship matches, including the 2005 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament title that advanced VCU into the NCAA Tournament.

This past season, Finley oversaw the team’s transition to the Atlantic-10 Conference, where the Rams posted a 10-4 league record as part of a 25-6 overall mark, finishing third in the 12-team league before falling in the conference tournament semifinals. VCU excelled both on the court and in the classroom, finishing third in the country in blocking (3.10 blocks per set) and combining for a 3.2 team grade point average.

“I am very excited to receive the opportunity to move the Seattle U program forward as it looks to advance within Division I and the Western Athletic Conference,” Finley said. “It was enjoyable to meet with the people within the Redhawk athletics department involved in the hiring process, and I look forward to working with everyone at Seattle U.”

Finley went to VCU from Arizona Western College, where he served as head coach from 2001 to 2005, compiling a 137-37 (.787) record over four seasons. The team was ranked in the top 10 nationally all four years using players he recruited from the United States, Brazil, and Europe. He had been the assistant coach at UTEP for two seasons before heading to Arizona Western.

A high school volleyball coach from 1992 to 1999, Finley has run his own volleyball camps since 1995. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Sul Ross State University in 1983 and has been an instructor at Texas A&M University, Arizona Western College, and El Paso Community College.

“James built successful programs at VCU and Arizona Western, constantly competing for conference championships, and I am pleased that we were able to hire someone with the experience that he has. I am confident that he will do whatever it takes to bring Seattle U’s volleyball program up to a similar level,” said Hogan.

The Seattle University volleyball team finished ninth in the Western Athletic Conference in 2012 with a 4-14 league record as part of a 9-19 overall mark. Eight players who saw action during the 2012 campaign, as well as four student-athletes who redshirted, are eligible to return for the 2013 season.

What other coaches say about James Finley

“I’ve coached against James a few times over the years and have always been impressed with how prepared his teams have been. This past year’s VCU team was extremely talented and athletic and might have been just another win or two away from making it back to the NCAA Tournament. I think Seattle U just made a hire that will get that program on an upward trajectory quickly.” – Kelly Sheffield, University of Wisconsin head volleyball coach, former head coach at the University of Dayton


“I have heard great things about James, not just from knowing him, but also from talking to other coaches about his work ethic. He has international connections, which gives him the ability to get foreign players who can help the team. He has the ability to change a program immediately.” – Sherry Dunbar, University of Indiana head volleyball coach

Bill Protecting VA’s LGBT State Employees Moves To Senate Floor

Organizations Applaud General Laws & Technology Committee for Passing SB 701

Richmond, VA – Today, Senate Bill 701 was moved out of the General Laws and Technology Committee with an 8-7 vote and will be scheduled in the Senate.

“We’re glad the committee listened to the thousands of Virginians that messaged their delegates and senators on this issue.” James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said. “Now, we must continue spreading the word about the importance of workplace protections for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees to move this out of the Senate.”

The bill, introduced by Senator Donald McEachin and Senator Adam Ebbin extends protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in addition to other federal standards into the Virginia’s code for state workers.

“We’re extraordinarily pleased members of the Senate recognize no Virginian should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love,” Anna Scholl, executive director of ProgressVA, said. “Protecting all state employees from workplace discrimination brings Virginia into line with the private sector standard and ensures we can recruit the best and brightest to lead our Commonwealth forward.”

The bill has received support from 46 co-patrons in both chambers of the General Assembly. Equality Virginia reported last week that the General Assembly has received over 11,000 constituent messages in support of the legislation.

Of Virginia’s top 25 private employers, 80 percent have policies protecting at least sexual orientation and 60 percent also protect gender identity and expression.

The advocacy organizations worked to spread the word about the importance of non-discrimination protections, which already have support by a majority of Virginians. According to a bipartisan poll from Fabrizo, McLaughlin & Associates and the Schapiro Group, 90 percent of Virginians believe gay and lesbian employees should have the right to work for the government without discrimination.

“Our president spoke eloquently today in his inauguration speech by saying ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law’ – This bill is an opportunity for our lawmakers at home to give all LGBT Virginians an opportunity for fairness and job security,” Parrish said.

YEAS: George Barker (D-39), Charles Colgan (D-29), Creigh Deeds (D-25), Adam Ebbin (D-30), Mark Herring (D-33), Mamie Locke (D-02), Chap Peterson (D-34), Jill Vogel (R-27)

NAYS: Frank Ruff (R-15), Richard Black (R-13), Thomas Garret, Jr. (R-22), Stephen Martin (R-11), Bryce Reeves (R-17), Walter Stosch (R-12), Richard Stuart (R-28)


General Assembly Digest: 01.18.13

Del. Surovell

WIN: VA’s First Openly Gay Judge/LOSS: Marriage Repeal Squashed

This first full week of session has been a roller coaster at the General Assembly.  You probably read the news that HJ665, a resolution to repeal the marriage amendment, got tabled and therefore killed in subcommittee; meaning it’s going to be another two years before we can introduce this repeal again.

We appreciate Del. Scott Surovell (pictured), Del. Rob Krupicka and the bill’s co-patrons for speaking on behalf of LGBT families – it’s unfortunate that House Republicans won’t even bring this up for a vote.

As we mentioned in our message earlier this week, we need all of Virginia’s legislators to hear that LGBT issues are important, so we need you to stand up and attend our free Day of Action on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

If you can’t make it, please join the cause with a $10, $35 or more to make sure we are being heard.  Our opposition is well-funded, so every little bit helps.


Thorne-BeglandEquality Virginia was elated with the news this week of Tracy Thorne-Begland’s confirmation as Virginia’s first openly gay judge. Watch his passionate interview with the House-Senate Judicial Panel on Monday here.  The General Assembly took a small step forward in correcting last year’s embarrassing national headlines.


Did your delegate or senator vote for Tracy?  Click here to send a thank you or ask them why they didn’t do the right thing!


SusieOn Thursday, we hosted a joint press conference with Senator Adam Ebbin and Senator Donald McEachin announcing the 11,235 messages YOU have already sent to your legislators showing your support of protecting LGBT state employees.

Mom Susie Corbett also spoke eloquently at the conference about how her son has been looking for employment over the past few months and doesn’t want his opportunities limited because of homophobia.

The bill currently has 48 patrons in the House and Senate and is slated to be heard in the General Laws & Technology Committee this Monday, Jan. 21.


We still need to make sure this bill gets all the support it can.  Thank your delegate or senator for signing on as a co-patron or ask them to join their fellow legislators in ending workplace discrimination.



Establishes guidelines and model polices for codes of student conduct to aid local school boards in the implementation of such policies. Equality Virginia supports fully enumerated bullying policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.


Allows publicly funded groups to participate in discriminatory acts. The First Amendment protects the right of student organizations to hold and advocate whatever ideas they choose. This bill is not about free expression, but about universities’ right to refrain from sponsoring discriminatory conduct. Student organizations that wish to discriminate are free to do so — but that does not mean that they should be entitled to government recognition and funding.

Visit our General Assembly Resource Page for daily updates on legislation and more ways to take action.

General Assembly receives more than 11,000 constituent messages in support of protecting LGBT state employees

Legislators & Citizens Rally To Support SB 701

Richmond, VA – Today, Senator Donald McEachin (D-9) and Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) announced co-patrons for their bill to add non-discrimination protections for state employees. Senate Bill 701 protects state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in addition to current federal standards.

“This is about fairness,” McEachin said. “Employment and advancement should be solely dependent on job performance. No one should be subject to discrimination on the job, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Currently there are no workplace protections at the state or federal level for sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Consistent polling shows that 90% of Virginians believe that gays and lesbians should have the right to work for the government without discrimination.

“All Virginians deserve equal opportunity, fairness and justice,” Ebbin said. “The Commonwealth must remain competitive and now is the time to move forward and protect our state workers.”

Statewide LGBT advocacy organization Equality Virginia and ten other organizations have leant their support to passing SB 701 including: ProgressVA, Virginia Organizing, Mothers & Others of Virginia, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, AARP Virginia, Black Transmen Inc., Ladies of the Blue Ridge – Transgender Alliance, Roanoke Pride Inc., Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, LGBT Democrats of Virginia.

According to Equality Virginia, the General Assembly has received more than 11,235 constituent messages in support of this piece of legislation.

“This is an amazing response we’ve seen from Virginians in favor of protecting our state employees,” James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said. “We hope every senator and delegate is listening to their constituents on this issue.”

Of Virginia’s top 25 private employers, 80 percent have policies protecting at least sexual orientation and sixty percent also protect gender identity and expression. Top employers with fully inclusive protections include Capital One, Wal-mart, Target, Wells Fargo, and Dominion Resources. These businesses understand that protecting LGBT employees helps in recruiting and retaining top talent and promoting a productive work environment.

“This shows the state should do for its employees what these businesses do for theirs,” Ebbin said.

SB701 awaits a vote in the General Laws and Technology Committee on Monday, Jan. 21 to move forward.

Senate Patrons: A. Donald McEachin (chief patron), Adam P. Ebbin (chief patron), Kenneth C. Alexander, George L. Barker, R. Creigh Deeds, John S. Edwards, Barbara A. Favola, Mark R. Herring, Janet D. Howell, Mamie E. Locke, David W. Marsden, Henry L. Marsh III, John C. Miller, Ralph S. Northam, Phillip P. Puckett, Linda T. Puller, Richard L. Saslaw

House Patrons: Luke E. Torian, Mamye E. BaCote, Robert H. Brink, David L. Bulova, Betsy B. Carr, Rosalyn R. Dance, Eileen Filler-Corn, Charniele L. Herring, Daun Hester, Patrick A. Hope, Mark L. Keam, Kaye Kory, K. Rob Krupicka, Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr., Alfonso H. Lopez, Jennifer L. McClellan, Delores L. McQuinn, Joseph D. Morrissey, Kenneth R. Plum, Thomas Davis Rust, James M. Scott, Mark D. Sickles, Lionell Spruill, Sr., Scott A. Surovell, David J. Toscano, Roslyn C. Tyler, Jeion A. Ward, Onzlee Ware, R. Lee Ware, Jr., Vivian E. Watts, Joseph R. Yost


Equality Virginia Statement on Thorne-Begland’s Confirmation From House

Richmond, VA – Today, Equality Virginia applauds the General Assembly for making the right decision and confirming Tracy Thorne-Begland’s appointment to the Richmond General District Court.

“This is a big step forward after last year’s actions made embarrassing national headlines,” Executive Director James Parrish said.

“Equality Virginia is pleased that the General Assembly could see that Thorne-Begland is a qualified candidate with integrity and a long history of public service,” Parrish said.  “Thorne-Begland has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor.”

 “We’re glad the General Assembly took a second look at his candidacy and this time the decision was based on his qualifications and not on who he is or who he loves,” Parrish said.  “While Thorne-Begland has been given another opportunity, without employment protections, most Virginians do not get a second chance at their jobs after being fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation.”