2014 General Assembly Session shows positive momentum for issues important to LGBT Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 6, 2014 Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected], 804.643.4816 RICHMOND – During the 2014 General Assembly session, Equality Virginia supported legislation that would bring the Commonwealth of Virginia closer to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families.   While the organization’s priority bills failed to pass, some bills did receive bi-partisan support in the House of Delegates. Identical bills that would have protected LGBT state employees from being fired or discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced by Democrat Marcus Simon and Republican Ron Villanueva. “There is no excuse for the Commonwealth of Virginia to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees differently from any other employee,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “It is promising to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree that LGBT state employees should not live in fear of being fired simply because of who they are.” Equality Virginia also supported bills in the House and Senate that would have allowed for second-parent adoption in Virginia.  The Senate bill, introduced by Democrat Senator Janet Howell, failed to report out of the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee by a six-to-six vote.  Republican Delegate Joseph Yost was chief patron of an identical bill in the House.  The House bill had seven cosponsors – five Democrats and two Republicans. “Second-parent adoption is about Virginia’s children,” said Parrish.  “Until Virginia gains the freedom to marry, there are thousands of children, being raised by gay and lesbian couples, who would gain numerous protections if second-parent adoption were possible.  Protecting our children should be a no brainer.” Other bills Equality Virginia supported in the 2014 General Assembly session included those that would have ensured fair housing laws, banned gay conversion therapy, and expanded insurance benefits. “While we fell short of achieving all of our goals, this session has shown that a growing number of legislators are willing to stand on the right side of history in support of equality and fairness,” said Parrish.  “We will take the momentum we have gained this session to continue our work towards making Virginia a place that is fair and welcoming for all.”