Equality Means Business is Growing!

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Housing professionals learning about how they can join Equality Means Business

During the month of April – Fair Housing Month – Equality Virginia partnered with Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME)  to educate Virginians about our efforts to eliminate housing discrimination against LGBT Virginians, and also to show housing professionals that there’s an exciting way they can help!

The month culminated with a Fair Housing Breakfast reception in Richmond, sponsored by Weinstein Properties at their Kings Crossing property.  A special thanks to Richmond Business Alliance  for helping us spread the word!

Throughout the month we have been encouraging housing professionals and companies to join the new multi-state campaign Equality Means Business designed to showcase businesses that know how vital LGBT customers and employees are to their success in a modern economy.  Housing professionals including Weinstein Properties, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development,  Second Act Communities, and Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation are among the newest  members of Equality Means Business.

This program is for ALL small businesses who want to increase their business and stand up for fairness and equality. The Equality Means Business program is growing every week – in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina –  meaning that LGBT-friendly professionals and businesses are coming together not just across the commonwealth, but across the region to create a more friendly and inclusive business community.

From restaurants in Virginia Beach, to doctors in Chester, to shops in Blacksburg, we’ve seen a growing number of businesses pledging to keep their doors open to all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. All professionals and businesses that join Equality Means Business are added to an online directory, so consumers can be sure that they are supporting local businesses that have taken a stand against LGBT discrimination.

VA_logoThere is also a way for large corporations to be involved! Equality Virginia’s Virginia Fairness project recognizes several large corporations, including Altria, Capital One, CarMax, Dominion, and Genworth, that have policies clearly demonstrating a commitment to the safety and well-being of their LGBT employees.

As we work to change laws to protect LGBT Virginians,  we are glad to have companies like these that support diversity and improve Virginia’s reputation as a welcoming place to live, work, and visit.  Employees of Virginia Fairness accredited companies are respected and valued because their employers know that supporting workplace fairness makes good business sense, improves Virginia’s national reputation, and keeps Virginia competitive.

Equality Virginia wants to keep the momentum from the successful Fair Housing Month going! We are always happy to receive new Equality Means Business members, so if you know of any local businesses that are willing to take a stand against discrimination, let them know about Equality Means Business!

It’s Time for the Supreme Court to Finish the Job on Marriage

For immediate release – April 27, 2015

Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected]; 804-643-4816

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments Tuesday in marriage cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. With regard to the issue of marriage equality and the Court, the following statement can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia:

“When Virginia became the first southern state to gain the freedom to marry in October of 2014, we didn’t know the momentum for marriage equality would spread like wildfire throughout the country.  Nearly three-quarters of Americans – including Virginians – now live in states that have the freedom to marry, but that isn’t good enough. The patchwork of discrimination is unsustainable, hinders economic growth, and hurts our families. It’s time for the Supreme Court to finish the job on marriage and to rule on the side of love, fairness, and equality. It’s time for our country to be on the right side of history.”

Sen.Tim Kaine among 1,000 celebrating freedom to marry at Equality Virginia’s Commonwealth Dinner

12th Annual Dinner Honors Plaintiff Couples Instrumental in Bringing Marriage Equality to Commonwealth of Virginia

For immediate release – April 18, 2015

CONTACT:  Kirsten Bokenkamp | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

RICHMOND – An estimated 1,000 guests including U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, Attorney General Mark Herring, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, and a dozen state senators and delegates, celebrated the freedom to marry on Saturday night at Equality Virginia’s 12th Annual Commonwealth Dinner.

“Countless Virginians have been working to bring the freedom to marry to the commonwealth for decades, and finally achieving it is a huge part of Virginia’s history” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “From Attorney General Herring’s historic decision to side with the plaintiffs, to Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s ruling the day before Valentine’s Day, to the rallies that so many Virginians participated in, this journey has been phenomenal and deserves to be celebrated.”

The four plaintiff couples in Virginia’s marriage case were honored and brought to the stage alongside Attorney General Mark Herring.

Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director and preeminent front-line leader in the movement to win and protect marriage delivered a celebratory address to the crowd and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine voiced his strong support for marriage equality.

“With legal victories protecting marriage equality in 37 states across the country, we are at a historic juncture in our efforts to ensure all loving couples have the freedom to marry. The Fourth Circuit Court made the right decision in striking down Virginia’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage last year and I urge the Supreme Court to follow suit with a ruling in support of full marriage equality,” said Senator Kaine.

In addition to celebrating marriage, Equality Virginia honored its 2015 class of OUTstanding Virginians for representing the LGBT community with distinction and for their commitment to moving the LGBT community forward.  Since 2009, Equality Virginia has honored OUTstanding Virginians at its annual Commonwealth Dinner.

On October 6, 2014, Virginia became the first southern state to gain the freedom to marry.  The U.S. Supreme court is slated to hear four marriage cases on April 28th, which could ultimately bring marriage equality to all 50 states.  Thirteen states do not yet have the freedom to marry.

“We still have a lot of work to do to bring full and lived equality to LGBT Virginians – including ending discrimination in employment and housing, and protecting our youth – but tonight we are taking a moment to celebrate all the amazing people and organizations who contributed to bringing the freedom to marry to Virginia,” said Parrish.

The Commonwealth Dinner was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

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Equality Virginia is the leading 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 EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Senator Tim Kaine, Special Guests Join Equality Virginia’s Commonwealth Dinner

MEDIA ADVISORY

12th Annual Dinner Dedicated to Celebrating the Freedom to Marry in the Commonwealth of Virginia

 

CONTACT:  Kirsten Bokenkamp | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

 

WHAT: Press invitation to attend Equality Virginia’s 12th Annual Commonwealth Dinner

WHEN: Saturday, April 18, 2015, 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

WHERE: Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. Third St., Richmond, VA

WHO: U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam will join Virginia’s largest gala for the gay and transgender community. Other elected officials include Congressman Bobby Scott; Senators Adam Ebbin, Rosalyn Dance, and Donald McEachin; Delegates Betsy Carr, Cherniele Herring, Kathleen Murphy, Ken Plum, Mark Sickles and Marcus Simon.

At this year’s Commonwealth Dinner, Equality Virginia will be celebrating the freedom to marry.  Marriage equality is an important part of Virginia’s history, and among the nearly 1,000 guests attending the Commonwealth Dinner will be the four plaintiff couples winning the freedom to marry in Virginia, representatives from the organizations representing those couples, political allies, and a host of  LGBT supporters.

In addition to celebrating marriage, the following OUTstanding Virginians will be recognized for representing the LGBT community with distinction and for their commitment to moving the LGBT community forward: Keri Abrams, Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, William C. Hall, Jr., Rodney Lofton, Paula Prettyman and Kelly Schlageter, Todd Rosenlieb, and Mothers & Others.  Since 2009, Equality Virginia has honored OUTstanding Virginians at its annual Commonwealth Dinner.

RSVP: Please contact Kirsten Bokenkamp for more details or to RSVP.  The program is between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM.

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Equality Virginia is the leading 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 EqualityVirginia.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.