Virginia passes sweeping LGBT rights legislation

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Virginia's Senate and House have passed sweeping LGBT rights protection legislation that bans discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing based on one's sexual orientation and gender identity.

The so-called Virginia Values Act passed the House 59 to 35 and the Senate 30 to 9 on Thursday to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's civil rights protections.


"Today, we have laid a marker down that every Virginian can work hard, earn a living wage and live their lives without fear of discrimination based on who they are or who they love," said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn in a statement after the House vote. "The sun shines brighter on the Commonwealth of Virginia with the House's passage of this landmark legislation."

Each chamber must now vote on the other's version of the bill before it goes on to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk to sign.

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Northam has voiced support for the bill, which, if signed into law, will make Virginia the first southern state to include sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws.

"LGBTQ Virginians should never have to fear being fired or evicted because of who they love," Northam said in a statement following the vote. "These comprehensive anti-discrimination protections will make our Commonwealth stronger and more inclusive and I'm proud to support them."


According to Equality Virginia, there are some 250,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered adults living in the state who will be directly affected by the passage of this bill.

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"This is a historic day and a bright moment for the whole country as Virginia prepares to become the first Southern state to ensure full, comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people from discrimination," said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans. "The moment for freedom and fairness in Virginia will reverberate across America as ongoing proof that people of all beliefs and backgrounds -- living in red, blue and purple states -- can and do support non-discrimination protections."

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