Protecting Families Is Good Business

Did you read our op-ed in Monday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch supporting marriage equality for all Americans?    We shared the page with the Family Foundation and we know we don’t share the same views on a few things, but Ms. Cobb argued against protecting sexual orientation in our hiring practices.  

She claims that our equality deficiency actually doesn’t make Virginia an unattractive place for new business citing this new “report” from the National Organization for Marriage.

That brief titled “Is Gay Marriage Good for the Economy” makes an outlandish correlation between states with full marriage equality and their underperformance in job growth, employment, and business rankings. 

Yes, Virginia is known as a business leader, but our campaign to end workplace discrimination focuses on protecting state and public employees to catch our government up with the private sector.  Most Fortune 500 companies and the majority of Virginia’s top 25 private employers have already adopted workplace practices inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  Protecting employees from discrimination makes economic sense – it’s good for recruiting and retaining top talent.

Moreover, America’s largest companies like Apple, Google, and Starbucks not only have had longstanding inclusive practices, but support marriage equality.  They’re bringing profits to their own companies while putting jobs and growth in local economies, right?   

In 2010, Google even began compensating their coupled LGBT employees for the added tax burden the Defense of Marriage Act creates. Just last month, nearly 300 companies filed a brief against DOMA.

Illinois, which has marriage equality on its legislative docket right now, has major companies backing the measure.  The Williams Institute adds marriage equality will generate $103 million in spending for the state and local economy over the course of three years.  Their estimates are based on increases seen in wedding spending, tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests, and sales tax revenues.  Read their full report.

Protecting LGBT citizens and providing the economic security that comes with relationship recognition and inclusive workplace policies can only boost morale leading to a more productive work environment which is critical to the success of a company.

Virginians Leading LGBT Equality Honored April 6


Kevin Clay | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

Equality Virginia Recognizes OUTstanding Virginians at Gala Feat. Cory Booker

RICHMOND, VA – On Saturday, April 6, Equality Virginia recognizes seven Virginians committed to moving the LGBT community forward at its 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.  The event is the state’s largest black-tie gala gathering for the Virginia LGBT community and supporters and features special guest Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker.

Since 2009, Equality Virginia has honored OUTstanding Virginians at the annual event, but this year is the first in the organization’s history it is honoring allies in addition to outspoken LGBT community leaders.

2013’s honorees include:

Viola Baskerville (Advocate, Richmond) She has served as Richmond councilwoman, Vice Mayor, state Delegate and Secretary of Administration—Throughout Viola Baskerville’s time as a public servant, civil rights were a central part of her agenda.  One of her first votes was for a resolution in response to a rash of hate crimes in the city. The resolution specifically included sexual orientation as a category of prohibited discrimination.

Ted Heck (Activist, Richmond) Ted’s commitment to social justice and anti-violence has dovetailed with his career in public health through the Virginia Department of Health.  As part of this work, he coordinates the efforts of VDH and the Transgender Advisory Group of the Virginia HIV Community Planning Group.  Growing up a female-bodied person who had always identified as male, Ted’s personal journey has given him a special perspective on the needs of the LGBTQ community. He believes his understanding of the special situation of sexual minorities has contributed to his success within the public health system.

Guy M. Kinman, Jr. (Billboard Pioneer, Richmond) Guy Kinman initiated the Billboard Project to raise visibility for the gay and lesbian community with billboards placed throughout Richmond.  The 95-year old former Air Force chaplain and pioneering gay rights leader doesn’t believe in limiting oneself to a label. “I thought then that only if every last gay or lesbian declared themselves would we begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin. But now I see the lasting change came about because we didn’t need to explain who we were—just to work, play, be in our churches and our interest groups—just to live.”

Congressman Jim Moran (Politician, Northern Virginia) Congressman Moran has been a long- standing ally of the LGBT community, dating back to his efforts as Mayor of Alexandria to prohibit discrimination of city employees. He is a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Our Own (Publishers, Hampton Roads) At its peak, the Hampton Roads paper was a primary source of news for gay and lesbian issues and had a circulation of 12,000, with readers in all 50 states and 40 countries around the world. Our Own covered major Virginia stories, such as witch hunts at the Norfolk Navy Base, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hearings, and the arrest of prominent gay clergyman/author Mel White for trespassing when he tried to speak with Pat Robertson at the televangelist’s CBN Broadcast Center.

Charlotte J. Patterson (Researcher, Charlottesville) University of Virginia Psychology Professor Charlotte J. Patterson’s research on the emotional health of children in same-sex households has dispelled the misconception that heterosexual parents are a prerequisite for children to grow up happy and well adjusted.   Her work has contributed to precedent setting court decisions and has been cited in amicus briefs for two current Supreme Court cases concerning marriage equality.

Gregg Smith (Community Activist  & Philanthropist) Like so many promising service members, Gregg Smith’s Navy career was cut short by his sexuality. Unlike many, though, he was treated with respect and not pressured to inform on fellow sailors.   Without regret, Gregg immediately took a position with the financial planning company Ameriprise and is now a franchise owner. Through his work, he develops seminars and workshops specifically for clients in same-sex partnerships and is able to support local HIV-AIDS service organizations and pride events.  He is invested in causes including Equality Virginia, Human Rights Campaign Fund and the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network and has personally hosted and participated in many fundraisers supporting local organizations, as well.

In addition to celebrating the OUTstanding Virginians, the Commonwealth Dinner will feature a keynote delivered by Mayor Booker.   Booker is a rising political star known for his innovative ideas, bold actions, and longtime support of LGBT equality. He has been named TIME’s most 100 influential people, and has also received recognition in Esquire and the New York Times Magazine for his leadership. Tickets to the event are still available through Friday, March 29 at

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Greater Richmond Convention Center
403 North Third Street
Richmond, VA 23219

General Tickets – $125
VIP Tickets – $250

Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at  Connect on or Twitter @EqualityVA.

University of Richmond’s Office of Alumni and Career Services receives “OUT for Work” ranking

Office of Alumni and Career Services receives second gold ranking from OUT for Work; university committed to programs for LGBTQ students

The University of Richmond’s Office of Alumni and Career Services has received a Gold ranking from OUT for Work (OFW), an organization that works to complement the educational experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students.

This is the second year in a row that Richmond has received a gold ranking in the organization’s Career Center Certification Program (CCCP). OFW bases its rankings on a comprehensive assessment of nearly 160 career resource centers and releases its findings in an annual report.

“The report looks at the level of LGBTQ-specific resources that college career centers provide,” said Leslie Stevenson, director of career services at Richmond. “We are proud of receiving the gold certification once again, as the university and our office continue to be committed to diversity and inclusion.”

This year, Richmond’s Career Services has focused on a partnership with Common Ground, the office that supports diversity priorities. The center also works closely with the alumni group, LGBTQ Spiders, and has launched a LinkedIn subgroup dedicated to LGBTQ networking.

ACLU Urges Governor to Veto Bill Requiring Public Universities to Fund Discriminatory Student Organizations

Group says legislation is unnecessary to protect students’ free speech and free association rights, and threatens universities’ academic freedom

The ACLU of Virginia today sent a letter to Governor Bob McDonnell on March 8 urging him to veto legislation that compels public colleges and universities to recognize and fund student organizations that discriminate in their membership based on sexual orientation and religion.

“The First Amendment already protects the right of student organizations to discriminate,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. “These bills have nothing to do with students’ free speech or free association rights. Instead, it’s about infringing on the university’s right to academic freedom and to promote an inclusive learning environment. While student groups have a right to discriminate, it does not mean that we must require public colleges to recognize and fund those discriminatory groups.”

The bills, HB 1617 and SB 1074, prohibit public universities from denying recognition and funding to student organizations that discriminate in their membership based on classifications – such as sexual orientation and religion – not protected by federal statutes. The legislation is intended to override the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010), in which the high court ruled in favor of Hastings College of Law and affirmed the school’s right to require student clubs seeking school recognition and funding to adhere to the school’s non-discrimination policy, so long as the requirement is applied to all student clubs equally.

“One of the primary goals of higher education institutions is to ensure that educational opportunities are available to all students,” added Gastañaga. “Participation in student organizations provides meaningful leadership opportunities and the chance to build professional contacts. Students excluded from these clubs may face a disadvantage that can substantially harm them, and government resources should not be used to perpetuate such inequality or to enable discrimination.”

A copy of the ACLU’s letter to the Governor can be found online at:

U.S. Congress Files DOMA Brief

Senators Mark Warner & Tim Kaine

Last Friday, 212 members of Congress signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.  The brief also includes 25 members who voted for DOMA back in 1996.

“Some States still criminalized same-sex relationships, inviting further discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, family relations, and housing,” the brief says. “…As a result, when the question of same-sex marriage arose in 1996, reflexive beliefs and discomfort about same-sex relationships dominated congressional debate. From our perspective—including those of us who voted for DOMA—debate and passage of the law did not necessarily arise ‘from malice or hostile animus,’ but instead from ‘insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.'”

Download the Amicus Brief here.

All of Virginia’s Congressional Democrats signed the brief including:

  • Sen. Mark Warner
  • Sen. Tim Kaine
  • Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
  • Rep. James “Jim” Moran, Jr.
  • Rep. Gerald Connolly
“To me, repeal of DOMA is an issue of fairness. Under DOMA, committed relationships legally recognized by some states are made financially and legally unequal in many ways: taxes, inheritance, insurance benefits, and a thousand other rights and benefits that the federal government routinely grants to other married couples,” Sen. Warner said in a statement.  “I am proud to lend my name to the amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse this discriminatory law. Marriage equality now receives growing bipartisan support, and DOMA repeal is supported by a significant number of leading U.S. businesses, who correctly believe that DOMA represents an impediment to economic competitiveness.”

Virginia Colleges Equality Symposium at Washington & Lee University

Marcia Purdy, faculty member at Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp and instructor at Iowa State University, will deliver the keynote address at the Virginia Colleges Equality Symposium hosted by the GLBT Equality Initiative at Washington and Lee University on Saturday, March 9.

Purdy will present her address, “Ally Development: I’m Out Too,” at 3:00 p.m. in the Hillel Multipurpose Room. It is free and open to the public. Registration for the symposium will begin promptly at 2:30 p.m. For more information please visit

“She is a gracious and intentional leader who cares about the people, not just the issues. Campus Pride is lucky to have her time and talents help us create safer, more LGBT-friendly campus communities,” said Campus Pride CEO Shane Windmeyer.

In addition to the keynote, participants will hear a presentation from Equality Virginia and participate in a group brainstorm and a raffle drawing.

The purpose of the symposium is to create a strong network between GLBTQA students, student organizations, alumni, allies, and community members throughout the state of Virginia.

The symposium will be followed by the Virginia Colleges Equality Gala, which will begin promptly at 7 p.m. in Evans Hall. Black-tie attire is suggested for the gala. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. For more information please visit

The Washington and Lee University GLBT Equality Initiative is a student run organization that works to promote equal rights, justice, and opportunity for all members of the Washington and Lee University and Lexington community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

DC Expands Adoption Rights for Lesbian Couples

This is a guest post written by Michele Zavos of Zavos Juncker Law Group. She can be reached at [email protected].

Good News for Lesbian Couples Raising Children in Virginia!

The District of Columbia recently passed a new law allowing adoptions to take place in the District if a child is born in the District!  The original D.C. Parentage Act was passed in 2009, and gave lesbian couples who are married, registered as Domestic Partners in D.C., or who sign a Consent to Parent, parental rights to their child, if the child is born in the District. However, the D.C. law almost certainly would not be recognized by Virginia. That law has now been amended to allow such couples to obtain an adoption in the District or a Judgment of Parentage, based solely on the birth of the child in the District of Columbia. The new law takes effect on March 22, 2013. That means that lesbian couples who gave birth to a child in the District of Columbia after July 1, 2009 will be able to obtain a second-parent adoption in D.C., and the Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government should recognize the adoption for all purposes. Unfortunately, for now this new law may not apply to children born through surrogacy as surrogacy is illegal in the District of Columbia.

We are happy to talk with anyone who may be interested in obtaining an adoption or Judgment of Parentage under the new law. Our firm practices LGBT Family Law in both D.C. and Virginia and we have completed hundreds of adoptions in the District. We helped the D.C. City Council pass this new law.

Disclaimer: Publication does not imply endorsement by Equality Virginia or any warranty of legal services.  Additional service providers can be found on our legal resources page.

Urge Bob McDonnell to Veto Voter Restrictions!

The Senate and House of Delegates passed new voting restrictions that are heading to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.  A new photo ID requirement could disenfranchise thousands of Virginia’s eligible voters and could potentially create additional barriers for our transgender community.

According for the National Center for Transgender Equality, new voter ID laws increase the likelihood that transgender voters will encounter confusion, bias, and discrimination because of scrutiny of their ID documents at the polls.

Tell Bob McDonnell not to roadblock the vote by clicking here!

Last year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles implemented a much simpler policy for changing one’s gender marker.  A Gender Change Request Form (DL-17) is available on the DMV website and requires only a signature from a licensed provider attesting to the fact that the applicant is a patient of the provider and that the applicant’s gender identity is either female or male.

Read more about how voter ID laws impact trans people from the NCTE.

Voting While Trans: Preparing for the New Voter ID Laws by Nat'l Center for Transgender Equality

Centreville Spa Rejects LGBT Customers

According to The Fairfax Times, during Riya Suising’s trip to Virginia last year for business, she went to Centerville’s Spa World and was told she was not welcomed there because of her appearance.  The spa management said that five spa customers had lodged complaints about her presence.

In response to a Better Business Bureau investigation, Spa World representative Sang Lee responded “It is our policy not accept any kinds of abnormal sexual oriented customers to our facility such as homosexuals, or transgender(s).”

In Virginia, there is no law currently protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in public accommodation.  In Suising’s home state of California she would have been protected.  Virginia’s private businesses are within their legal right to deny service to LGBT people.  As consumers, we have the power to choose where we spend our money and use these opportunities to educate.

Read the full article here.

Sign the petition below to tell Spa World to change their discriminatory ways.