Bills introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30, Alexandria) and Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-33, Loudoun) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public employment and housing, passed the Virginia Senate on a decisive 29-10 vote.
SB 202, introduced by Ebbin, would codify non-discrimination protections for LGBT persons in public employment that have previously been enforced via executive orders from four of the past five Governors, as well as include protections for pregnant women, veterans, and other protected classes in state law.
Passage of this legislation would have Virginia join the 21 states, in addition to Washington, DC, which currently prohibit LGBT discrimination in public employment, and codify protections for state and local employees that are enjoyed by many LGBT individuals in the private sector. All 19 Virginia-based Fortune 500 companies already offer similar protections.
SB 423, introduced by Wexton, would include anti-LGBT discrimination protections in Virginia’s Fair Housing Law. Ebbin was a co-sponsor of of Wexton’s legislation and she co-sponsored Ebbin’s SB 202.
Ebbin and Wexton have introduced similar legislation in the past, and the respective bills have continued to gather increasing support in the Senate, including four additional Republican Senators who had voted against these measures in the 2017 legislative session.
Said Senator Ebbin:
“The Committee passage of bills to outlaw discrimination in public employment and housing represent continued progress for the new Virginia economy,” said Ebbin. “Forward-thinking companies want to locate in states where all their employees feel welcome and are safe from discriminatory practices.”
Said Senator Wexton:
“I have proudly championed this legislation for the last three years. It is gratifying to see it pass the Senate again and I look forward to bringing it over to the House,” said Sen. Wexton. “This is not only an issue of fundamental fairness but also of economic viability. What business will want to come to Virginia when their employees can be denied housing because of whom they love or how they identify?”