Who We Are
Founded in 1989 as Virginians for Justice, Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians (LGBT).
EV, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is tasked with providing the research and educational foundation for EV’s advocacy and to provide legal analysis and education on issues affecting LGBT Virginians. Make a tax-deductible gift to EV.
EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- EV supports Advanced Health Care Directives Registry legislation, EV’s third legislative victory in four years. The law will create a statewide database for registered advanced health care directives, helping to more easily determine who is authorized to make medical decisions for loved ones in a time of need.
- Passage of legislation allowing the right for every person in the state to name who they want to visit them in the hospital.
- Anti-Violence Project established.
- EVPAC participates in General Assembly races with 85% of EV-supported candidates winning election or re-election, including helping to replace two of the most anti-gay Senators, Sen. Nick Rerras and Sen. Jay O’Brien with new, fair-minded Senators.
- U.S. Representative Barney Frank kenotes EV’s Fourth Annual Commonwealth Dinner. Over 1300 people participate.
- The so-called “marriage amendment” passes. EV, a leading member of The Commonwealth Coalition to defeat the amendment, helped to raise over a million dollars, recruit 3000 volunteers and identify tens of thousands of fair-minded voters.
- Governor Tim Kaine signs Executive Order #1 protecting the Virginia state workforce from discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Over 500 citizens participate in Lobby Day.
- Former Virginia Senator and Governor Chuck Robb keynotes EV’s Third Annual Dinner with over 1100 people attending.
- EV leads passage of the Small Business Insurance Parity Act, allowing companies to offer domestic partner benefits. This is the first legislative victory in Virginia’s General Assembly. The law is signed by Governor Mark Warner and goes into effect on July 1, 2005.
- EV defends against anti-adoption legislation and anti-GSA legislation introduced by our opponents in the General Assembly.
- Governor Mark Warner signs an Executive Order extending workplace discrimination protections to gay and lesbian Virginians by adding “sexual orientation.
- So-called “marriage amendment” introduced to the legislature.
- Equality Virginia Political Action Committee (EVPAC) established. That year, EVPAC helps to defeat two anti-gay Delegates, Del. Dick Black and Del. Brad Marrs and helps to elect fair-minded Delegates.
- EV’s Second Annual Commonwealth Dinner is attended by over 1000 Virginians. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond keynotes.
- Passage of HB 751, the Affirmation of Marriage Act, banning civil unions, domestic partner benefits and “any other arrangement” that looks like marriage. EV leads half a dozen “Stand Up for Equality” rallies across the state in response to legislation going into effect; thousands participate.
- EV defeats legislation in the General Assembly that would have re-instated the VHDA’s “Family Rule”
- EVEF joins Miller-Jenkins vs. Miller-Jenkins custody lawsuit between two women.
- EV holds its First Annual Commonwealth Dinner with more than 600 people attending.
- Landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence vs. Texas that overturns all remaining sodomy laws in the country. Equality Virginia supports the case with anamicus brief (friend of the court brief) detailing how Virginia’s Crimes Against Nature (CAN) law helped to justify discrimination against GLBT people.
- EV leads effort to remove the “family rule” from the Virginia Housing Development Authority rules requiring co-applicants for low-income loans be related by blood, marriage or adoption.
- Statewide leadership caucus is held in Richmond during EV’s annual meeting, with over two dozen state and regional leaders attending. This meeting is the beginning of EV’s Annual Meeting and Activists Conference.
- Virginians for Justice changes its name to Equality Virginia. The Equality Virginia Education Fund is also established.
- Following documented discrimination, VJ participates in a case challenging Virginia’s adoption laws. This case clarifies that single gay and lesbian people are allowed to adopt in the state of Virginia.
- Following the fatal shooting at Roanoke’s Backstreet Café, where one person was killed and six injured, VJ staff assist in the community response to the nationally-covered hate crime.
- VJ leads in the national campaign “Equality Begins at Home,” a national effort to organize coordinated events across the country.
- Virginians for Justice celebrates 10th anniversary.
- Following an epidemic of hate violence, including the murder of a lesbian couple on the Appalachian Trail in Luray, Virginia, VJ joins a coalition of civil rights and religious leaders to combat the hate. In an 18 month period, over 60 churches were vandalized or were victims of arson, including MCC Richmond.
- Although Virginians for Justice was a participating organization, the Virginia Crime Commission refused to address anti-gay hate violence as part of their study.
- Governor George Allen signs a marriage bill that prevents Virginia from recognizing same-sex marriages in other states.
- Virginians for Justice launches a “cooperative candidate survey” to collect candidate opinions on issues affecting the GLBT community. Twenty-one percent of candidates respond to the survey.
- Virginia Beach includes “sexual orientation” in its hiring policies
- The Virginia Supreme Court ruled against Sharon Bottoms in a custody case (Bottoms v. Bottoms), in part due to her sexual orientation.
- Virginians for Justice opens its Richmond office.
- Arlington County includes “sexual orientation” in its human rights law.
- VJ hires its first contract lobbyist.
- Virginians for Justice succeeds in overturning a law that threatened to revoke liquor licenses to establishments that employed or catered to homosexuals.
- The VJ hate crimes reporting line is launched.
- Virginians for Justice is incorporated.
Our Mission & Vision
Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan advocacy, outreach and education organization seeking equality for LGBT Virginians. EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We envision a future where…
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Virginians will enjoy the same rights as their neighbors.
- All people can safely be honest and open about their sexual orientation and gender identity at school, at work and in their communities.
- All are safe from hate violence.
- Every Virginian will be able to marry the person they love, and have that relationship legally recognized.
- All Virginians will be evaluated only on the basis of their skills and hard work, and not face workplace discrimination due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The children of LGBT parents enjoy all the same protections as every child.
- Students in Virginia’s schools are free from bullying and harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- LGBT Virginians are free of police harassment and receive equal justice in the courts.
- All Virginians can find supportive faith communities.
- The Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth are no longer disfigured by legislation whose only purpose is to discriminate against LGBT Virginians.
- A pervasive spirit of tolerance, fairness and religious freedom will make organizations like Equality Virginia unnecessary.
See EV’s wins in relationship recognition, parenting, safe schools, non-discrimination and more. Read More
Read our blog, media clippings, press releases and our e-mail archive. Read More
Meet the EV team. Read More
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