The 2020 General Assembly session was historic and life-changing for Virginia’s LGBT community! Never before has our state legislature passed so many pieces of LGBTQ-friendly legislation. We are moving forward with a changed legal landscape where LGBTQ Virginians can proudly live, love, learn, and work in a more inclusive Commonwealth. Keep reading to find out more about the 16 pro-equality bills that passed the General Assembly, and went into effect on July 1, 2020.
The Virginia Values Act – LGBTQ Protections in Daily Life
The Virginia Values Act, patroned by Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Mark Sickles, bans discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, and public spaces. The Senate version of the bill (SB 868), passed the Senate 30-9 After the House added a substitute and passed it 54-46, the Senate agreed to the substitute 27-13. On April 11, Governor Northam signed the Virginia Values Act into law, making history as Virginia became the first state in the South to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their daily lives. Twenty states and D.C. already ban discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Thank you to Delegate Delores McQuinn, Senator Jennifer Boysko, and Senator Jennifer McClellan who all patroned individual nondiscrimination bills, and became chief co-patrons of the Virginia Values Act. Thank you also to the countless advocates, faith leaders, business supporters, and partner organizations in the Virginia Values Coalition who worked tirelessly to ensure LGBTQ Virginians are protected from discrimination in every area of their daily lives.
Delegate Mark Levine’s HB 1049, which updates Virginia’s code to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the House 59-39, and then passed the Senate with a substitute 24-14. The House initially rejected the substitute 1-97, however the Senate insisted on the substitute 24-15, so the bill went into conference committee to resolve the two chambers’ differences. Ultimately, the bill, as amended in conference committee, was agreed to by the Senate 26-13, and the House adopted it 52-40. On April 11, Governor Northam signed the bill into law allowing non-discrimination protections to be added to 70 different places in Virginia’s code, covering many areas of law such as public contracts, auto insurance, apprenticeship programs, and so much more.
Built Safer Communities
Delegate Richard Sullivan’s HB 276 and Delegate Kenneth Plum’s HB 618update Virginia’s hate crimes law to protect LGBTQ people and track data on hate crimes. HB 276 passed the House 61-37, and the Senate added a substitute 27-13, which the House adopted 60-39. HB 618 passed the House 56-43, and the Senate passed the bill 24-16 with a substitute to match HB 276’s substitute. The House adopted HB 618’s substitute 54-43. HB 276 was signed into law by Governor Northam on March 4, while HB 618 was signed into law on April 6. Virginia joins the rank of 20 other states and D.C. by protecting LGBTQ people from hate crimes.
Delegate Danica Roem’s HB 696allows cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances. It passed with supermajorities in the House 75-24 and the Senate 34-5, and it was signed into law by Governor Northam on March 4.
Protected LGBTQ Youth
Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 245 and Delegate Patrick Hope’s HB 386ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed professionals. SB 245 passed the Senate 21-18 and the House 62-35. HB 386 passed the House 66-27 and the Senate 22-18. HB 386 was signed into law by Governor Northam on March 2, while SB 245 was signed into law on April 6. Virginia has the historic honor of being the first state in the South, and the 20th state in the country, to ban conversion therapy on minors by licensed professionals. Thank you to the many advocates such as Adam Trimmer, the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia, The Trevor Project, the Born Perfect campaign, and Love Actually Won as well as countless others.
Created Safe Schools for LGBTQ Youth
Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 161 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 145 are companion bills that ensure public schools provide an equal learning environment to transgender and non-binary students. HB 145 passed the House 62-36, then the Senate made amendments and passed the bill 22-18. The House adopted those amendments 60-39. SB 161 had no amendments made so it had a clean pass through the Senate 23-16 and House 58-40. On March 4, Governor Northam signed HB 145 and SB 161 into law, making Virginia the 20th state to protect trans and non-binary students in public schools. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is required to craft model policies for local school boards by December 31, 2020. Each school board will then adopt policies consistent with the VDOE’s model policies by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Thank you to Side by Side, He She Ze and We, the Caregiver Advocacy Group, PFLAG groups around the state, and many others who worked tirelessly for this bill.
Repealed the Ban on Same-Sex Marriages & Unions
Companion bills SB 17 and HB 1490repeal the ban on same-sex marriages and unions in Virginia’s code. Senator Adam Ebbin’s SB 17 passed the Senate 25-13 and through the House 62-38. Delegate Nancy Guy’s HB 1490 passed the House 63-34 and the Senate 28-12. Governor Northam signed HB 1490 into law on March 2, and he signed SB 17 into law on March 6. Virginia still has an unenforceable amendment in its state constitution that prohibits same-sex marriages and unions.
Improved the Quality of Life for Trans Virginians
Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 246 allows Virginians to select a non-binary gender marker option on DMV licenses and IDs. The bill was passed by the Senate 21-18 and the House 57-43. Governor Northam signed SB 246 into law on March 31, making Virginia the 17th state to offer a third gender marker option on state IDs. Thank you to the advocates who have worked to allow non-binary Virginians to have an accurate state ID reflecting their gender identity.
Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 657 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 1041 make it easier to obtain a birth certificate that matches one’s identity. It will do this by eliminating the requirement for a court order or proof of medical procedure in order to update one’s gender marker. It will also allow for a new birth certificate to be issued, rather than an amended one showing old information. SB 657 passed the Senate 24-15, while the House’s passed it 52-45 with substitute. The Senate then adopted the substitute 24-16. HB 1041 passed the House 52-44, then the Senate passed it with a substitute 23-17 which the House adopted 51-45. Governor Northam signed SB 657 and HB 1041 into law on March 25, making Virginia the 23rd state to enact this much needed update.
Delegate Roem’s HB 1429prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against transgender and non-binary Virginians. The bill passed the House 54-41, then passed the Senate 22-18. Luckily, the senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed for a religious exemption that would have denied trans people’s equal access to care. On April 7, Governor Northam signed HB 1429 into law, making Virginia the 19th state to ban health insurance discrimination against trans and non-binary people. Thank you to the everyone from the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, and other organizations and advocates who supported this crucial bill.
Last but not least, Delegate Joseph Lindsey’s HB 19 will allow voters to cast a ballot without showing an ID containing a photo. The bill passed the House 57-43, then passed the Senate with a substitute 21-19. The house rejected the substitute 1-94, but the Senate insisted on the substitute 38-0, so the bill went into conference committee to resolve the two chambers’ differences. Ultimately, the bill, as amended in conference committee, was adopted by the House 54-45, and the Senate agreed 20-19. On April 10, Governor Northam signed HB 19 into law. This important update will increase access to the polls for those who have had difficulty accessing a photo ID. This legislation is also particularly important to transgender and non-binary voters, who have often had difficulty casting a ballot due to their appearance not matching the photo on their ID.