Equality Virginia applauds House subcommittee for voting down HB 1414

On Thursday, Delegate Bob Marshall’s  HB 1414, a bill that would have allowed any business or professional in Virginia to blatantly discriminate against LGBT people was tabled in a House of Delegates subcommitee.

“Equality Virginia applauds the subcommittee for voting against this discriminatory and destructive bill,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “This bill would have hurt too many people, damaged our business climate, and highlighted Virginia as a hostile and unwelcoming place to live and work.  The majority of Virginians agree that discrimination against LGBT people is wrong, and thankfully today’s vote reflects that opinion.”

Also in front of the same House subcommittee on Thursday were HB 1454, a bill introduced by Delegate Marcus Simon to end discrimination in housing, and identical bills HB 1498 (Delegate Ken Plum) and HB 1643 (Delegate Ron Villanueva) to end discrimination against LGBT public employees.   All three bills were tabled in subcommittee.

In better news for the LGBT community, earlier this week two Senate bills passed out of committee; the Senate is slated to vote on them either Friday or Monday.  SB 785, introduced by Senator Donald McEachin, would end discrimination against LGBT public employees; and SB 1211, introduced by Senator Adam Ebbin, would clarify the Code of Virginia’s use of gender references and assure that the rights and responsibilities of same-sex couples entering into marriage are clear.  Even if passed in the Senate, Equality Virginia does not expect either bill to succeed in the House of Delegates.

“As happy as we are that HB 1414 didn’t make it out of committee, today’s votes against fairness and non-discrimination make it clear that our work is far from over,” said Parrish.  “Even as a bill to protect LGBT public employees from workplace discrimination moves through the Senate, we expect the anti-LGBT majority in the House of Delegates to stall any progress.   We have also seen bills to ensure access to fair housing and to update the Code to accurately reflect marriage equality die on the spot.  The majority of Virginians believe in fairness and equality, and it is discouraging to see so many of our legislators unwilling to stand with them for what is right.”

Thursday evening, a House Rules subcommittee will hear two study bills that would impact the LGBT community.  HJ 546, a bill introduced by Delegate Rip Sullivan, would look at the issue of gender references in the code; and HJ 648, introduced by Delegate Ron Villanueva would ask the Virginia Housing Commission to study discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  In 2014, HOME conducted 29 matched-pair email tests using a methodology similar to that used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Testing results showed a 31 percent rate of differential treatment where same-sex couples were treated worse than different-sex couples, but a more extensive study is needed.

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