Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

2015 Elections

November 4th, 2015

The last week of elections, the EV Advocates team spent our days in the field, supporting EV PAC-endorsed candidates in their campaign efforts. The time we spent knocking on doors and making phone calls to rally Virginians all over the state to get out and vote was a worthy effort, and we were glad to have been part of the competitive races across the Commonwealth.

We especially are proud to have worked towards the win for pro-equality Senator-elect Jeremy McPike in the 29th Senate District (Prince William County). You can view the Senator-elect’s EVA Candidate Questionnaire here.

James McPike Governor Tram

Left to right: EV Advocates Director James Parrish, Senator-elect Jeremy McPike, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and New Virginia Majority Executive Director Tram Nguyen.

The Senate remains 19-21 and the power structure unchanged, leaving some people frustrated. However, Equality Virginia has a long history of bipartisan work and we believe these coalitions are the key to success. Our previous bills in the Senate have passed with support from both sides of the aisle, and this legislative session we will continue our work to maintain broad support for our bills.

In the House, we are excited to have earned a net gain of 2 pro-LGBT Delegate-elects. While still a ways to go until reaching a pro-LGBT majority, this election represents a continuation in the trend of more LGBT-friendly delegates joining with each cycle.

While General Assembly elections kept folks busy, the Fairfax County School Board also found its way into the voter spotlight. After an update earlier this year to their non-discrimination policy to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” under listed protections for students and employees, the Board faced intense pressure by the Traditional Values Coalition, a national hate group with a long record of anti-LGBT speech and activism. While EV PAC does not typically endorse candidates for local elections, after the outsider group TVC and a vocal minority began targeting Board members that upheld the non-discrimination policy updates, we knew we had to get involved.

Despite TVC’s opposition and hateful rhetoric, the Fairfax County School Board retained a pro-LGBT majority by a 9-3 margin in the elections, including the addition of School Board Member-elect Dalia Palchik who opposed the incumbent Patty Reed. Whereas Reed voted previously against updating the non-discrimination policy to include gender identity, Palchik openly campaigned on a pro-LGBT platform and promises to uphold the policy updates. This election proves a solid majority that supports the updated non-discrimination policies exists, and this majority understands the importance of protecting gay and transgender teachers, employees and students. Discrimination and hate is never a family value and has no place in our schools.

The election season may be over, but now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and prepare our legislative agenda for the upcoming session. The EV team looks forward to another opportunity to change Virginia’s laws and policies for the better, moving equality forward for our Commonwealth.

John Murphy’s story

October 28th, 2015

john-murphy-and-jerry-carter-x750

Equality Virginia stands by John Murphy, who was fired by the Richmond Catholic Diocese for being gay and married to his partner of 30 years.

We believe no one should be fired for who they love or how they identify. If you agree, help us make sure the Richmond Catholic Diocese understands discrimination like this is unacceptable in Virginia by signing our letter.

Here are the facts:

Like many Virginians, Mr. Murphy contacted us months ago letting us know about his story. He was hired as Executive Director by the lay Board of Directors of the St. Francis Home. The Home is a nonprofit, assisted living facility for persons of limited financial means regardless of race or creed, owned and financially operated by the Richmond Catholic Diocese.

After Mr. Murphy turned in his employee benefit paperwork, Bishop DiLorenzo demanded the board fire him because he has a husband. The board refused because they were already aware that John is gay and found him the best fit for the job. In fact, board members resigned in protest of Bishop DiLorenzo’s decision. Regardless, the next day John was terminated solely because of his marriage to the person he loves.

At the time he spoke to us, we told him what we tell everyone each time we get one of these calls – there is no law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians from being fired. But earlier this summer, the EEOC released a new ruling in Baldwin v. Dep’t of Transportation that reasoned discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

When Mr. Murphy and his lawyer decided to challenge his firing based upon this new opinion, EV joined his efforts. Hear Mr. Murphy share his story in the video below:

John Murphy’s Press ConferenceWatch John Murphy’s press conference, hearing his explanation on the discrimination he faced from the Richmond Catholic Diocese as he was fired for being gay and married to his partner of 30 years.If you disagree with Bishop DiLorenzo’s decision to fire John because he is gay – sign onto EV’s letter by clicking the link below!http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/bishop-dilorenzo-end

Posted by Equality Virginia on Thursday, October 15, 2015

 

How can you help?

Religious organizations have a protected right to make decisions about hiring and firing people who are ministers, and can teach or spread faith free from government interference. But for positions that do not involve ministerial duties, such as leading the St. Francis Home, our longstanding laws against discrimination apply to both religious and secular organizations.

Add your name to our letter to Bishop DiLorenzo asking for an apology to Mr. Murphy and a pledge to end discrimination against gay employees at its affiliated organizations in Virginia..

Already, over 600 fair-minded people have signed! By signing and sharing the letter, we can show our support for Mr. Murphy and stand for equality.

Media and press:

And as you might have seen, the story has made it around the country! Here’s what the press has to say about it:

Celebrating Julian Bond

August 18th, 2015
Julian Bond 1940 - 2015

Julian Bond
1940 – 2015

Julian Bond, a great champion of civil rights, passed away this past weekend.  In honor of his memory, we would like to share the text of his acceptance speech from the 2005 Equality Virginia Dinner when we presented him with the Commonwealth Award.


 

I am more than honored to receive this award, and want to express my thanks to all responsible for it. I believe it represents a common acknowledgement that denial of rights to anyone is wrong, and that struggles for rights are indivisible.

I represent an organization that has fought for justice for all for nearly 100 years, and while we’ve won many victories, we know – you know – there are other battles yet to be waged and won.

At the NAACP, we were proud to have opposed the federal marriage amendment and its wrong-headed state versions, and we oppose efforts to write bigotry into Virginia’s constitution too.

I always though Virginia was for lovers, not against them. That’s why I am so thankful for the case Loving v. Virginia.  A married couple – Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman – won a 1967 ruling from the United States Supreme Court that Virginia’s miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. That case enabled me to get married in Virginia. That case recognized marriage as one of the inviolable personal rights pursuant to happiness.

That’s why when I am asked, “Are Gay Rights Civil Rights?” my answer is always, “Of course they are.”

“Civil rights” are positive legal prerogatives – the right to equal treatment before the law. These are rights shared by all – there is no one in the United States who does not – or should not – share in these rights.

Gay and lesbian rights are not “special rights” in any way. It isn’t “special” to be free from discrimination – it is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship. The right not to be discriminated against is a common-place claim we all expect to enjoy under our laws and our founding document, the Constitution. That many had to struggle to gain these rights makes them precious – it does not make them special, and it does not reserve them only for me or restrict them from others.

When others gain these rights, my rights are not reduced in any way. Luckily, “civil rights” are a win/win game; the more civil rights are won by others, the stronger the army defending my rights becomes. My rights are not diluted when my neighbor enjoys protection from the law – he or she becomes my ally in defending the rights we all share.

For some, comparisons between the African-American civil rights movement and the movement for gay and lesbian rights seem to diminish the long black historical struggle with all its suffering, sacrifices and endless toil. However, people of color ought to be flattered that our movement has provided so much inspiration for others, that it has been so widely imitated, and that our tactics, methods, heroines and heroes, even our songs, have been appropriated by or served as models for others.

No parallel between movements for rights is exact. African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than two centuries, and people of color carry the badge of who we are on our faces. But we are far from the only people suffering discrimination – sadly, so do many others. They deserve the law’s protections and civil rights, too.

Sexual disposition parallels race – I was born black and had no choice. I couldn’t and wouldn’t change it if I could. Like race, our sexuality isn’t a preference – it is immutable, unchangeable, and the Constitution protects us all against prejudices and discrimination based on immutable differences.
Those whose bigotry is Bible-based selectively ignore Biblical injunctions to execute people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2) and to crack down on those who get haircuts (Leviticus 19:27) or who wear clothes with more than one kind of thread (Leviticus 19:19).

Recently, they’ve even ignored the sanctity of marriage – just ask Michael Schiavo.

Many gays and lesbians worked side by side with me in the ‘60s civil rights movement. Am I to now tell them “thanks” for risking life and limb helping me win my rights – but they are excluded because of a condition of their birth? That they cannot share now in the victories they helped to win? That having accepted and embraced them as partners in a common struggle, I can now turn my back on them and deny them the rights they helped me win, that I enjoy because of them?

Not a chance.

In 1965, those of us who worked in the civil rights movement were buoyed by a radio address given by Lyndon Johnson.

His words speak to us today. He said then:

“It is difficult to fight for freedom. But I also know how difficult it can be to bend long years of habit and custom to grant it. There is no room for injustice anywhere in the American mansion. But there is always room for understanding those who see the old ways crumbling. And to them today I say simply this: It must come. It is right that it should come. And when it has, you will find that a burden has been lifted from your shoulders too. It is not just a question of guilt, although there is that.  It is that men cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it.”

 

The lessons of the civil rights movement of yesterday – and the on-going civil rights movement of today – is that sometimes the simplest of ordinary acts – taking a seat on a bus or a lunch counter, registering to vote, applying for  a marriage license – can have extraordinary ramifications.  It can change our world, change the way we act and think.

Thank you again for this honor. Let us all leave here determined to fight on until all enjoy the blessings of liberty and justice. We can change the world. It will come.

Julian Bond
Richmond, Virginia
April 2, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Julian Bond

Photograph by Eduardo Montes-Bradley

Love Can’t Wait and Neither Can Change

June 26th, 2015

By Kyle Poulin

“The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.”

In the hearts of many lesbian and gay couples, we have long been committed to each other, but now the United States has shown it is finally committed to our love. The nationwide recognition of marriage equality will redefine the present and future LGBT experience in America. Same-sex couples can now constitutionally share their commitment to each other and the world. These couples and families can plan their dream wedding without the bitter sting of legality tarnishing their big day. Children of these families will be brought up with the equal protection they deserve.

With this victory, we not only celebrate marriage equality and everything it means to us, we bolster our case for equality and protection in other parts of the everyday lives of gay and transgender people: ending discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and housing; making schools safe and inclusive for all students, faculty and staff; and increasing access to healthcare.

As we rejoice with the plaintiff couples, on this day we must  thank Massachusetts for being the first to let love win, lighting the torch for other states to carry. We must also thank the many couples who sought marriage and equality in this country without success. Their bravery in standing up and out for what they wanted and believed in was necessary for getting the country where we are today. Their efforts have done for marriage equality what marriage equality must do for the remaining inequalities against gay and transgender Americans.

For instance, gay and transgender people can be turned away from a place of business in 28 states – including Virginia.  This must change.  A business that is open to one must be open to all. Discrimination is also something we face in housing.  In research conducted by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, same-sex couples received differential treatment 31% of the time when seeking rental housing. Nationally, 1 in 5 transgender people have been refused a home or apartment. And, while most Virginians think it is illegal to fire or not hire somebody because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, sadly this is not the case. Virginia does not have protections for gay or transgender employees. Even though a majority of Fortune 500 companies have policies in place to protect their workers on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, this does not protect all LGBT workers in the 31 states without non-discrimination laws.

We also face discrimination in our schools. While marriage is a milestone for many gay and lesbian adults, many of our LGBTQ youth do not feel safe at school. Nearly 70 percent of students in Virginia schools have experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation and 40 percent have based on their gender expression. When a student feels harassed and they report it to a teacher or administrator, the expectation of action and resolution often falls short. Out of the 59 percent of students who report verbal or physical harassment, only 26 percent said their report resulted in effective intervention. We have a responsibility to protect our youth and provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for them.

What about healthcare?  Gay and transgender – especially transgender – individuals in Virginia and throughout the country still face too many challenges in accessing affordable, inclusive, and high quality healthcare.  We must ensure that nobody is denied equal access to healthcare because of who they are.

All of these truths are self-evident to us as members of a community plagued with inequality, which is why we cannot stop now. This is time for celebration.  And, we must use this historic and monumental moment to revitalize our advocacy efforts.  We must all make a vow to rally against these remaining roadblocks on the path to LGBT equality in Virginia for all members of our community. Love won…equality and fairness for all must come next.

Stay involved and help make history!  sign up for EV emails, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or donate to help us bring equality to all Virginians!

Proud Out Loud

June 16th, 2015

By Kyle Poulin

Pride month comes with a certain amount of history and gravitas. The trials of violence and adrenaline endured by members and allies of the LGBT community in 1969 during the Stonewall Riots changed the landscape of LGBT equality in America, and gave us a month to be proud of. Just one year later people marched the streets of New York City in the world’s first Pride parade on June 28, 1970.

Equality Virginia supports Pride in Virginia in many forms, from Pride festivals to LGBT positive initiatives and conferences. We believe in harnessing progress and pushing it further, examining the inequalities remaining and defeating them. Learn more about current and upcoming ways we are working to get you equality in Virginia and make you Virginia Proud.


 

Check out Equality Means BusinessEMB VA logo, our multi-state campaign to highlight businesses that support the LGBT community through pledging non-discrimination for employees, customers, and clients. Through Equality Means Business, you can choose to spend your money at businesses that have actively aligned themselves against LGBT discrimination. Ask your favorite business to join! Visit our website and business directory at: http://virginiafairness.org/equality-means-business-2/


Coffee TalkLGBT-affirming faith communities are encouraged to contact us about our Coffee Talk program for bringing communities together to explore transgender journeys through open and candid dialogue. A simple set of guidelines frames each conversational Coffee Talk group. For more information see our website: http://www.equalityvirginia.org/transgender/coffee-talks/

 


FullSizeRenderDo you ever wish you had a platform to talk about an injustice or a slight against you or another? Use Equality VA’s Tell It program to let us know. Equality VA has also partnered with the online idea sharing platform Our Tomorrow as a way for Virginians to be represented in the continuing conversation of hopes and fears for the LGBT community. Our Tomorrow is partnered with over 100 of the United States’ top LGBT and equality organizations and their goal is to create a patchwork narrative for our community. Submit your story to Tell It at http://www.equalityvirginia.org/take-action/tell-it/ or join the ranks of Our Tomorrow at http://bit.ly/ourtomorrow151


 

Registration is now open VA tiesfor our Virginia Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit (TIES) to be held on October 10, 2015. The summit will consist of speakers, panels, and information sessions for many facets of the transgender community. In addition to being informative, the summit creates a valuable networking opportunity for making friends and seeing old ones with last year’s attendance at over 200. For more information and registration, go to: http://www.equalityvirginia.org/transgender/summit/


 

June kicks off the Prides of Virginia that don’t stop until October. Use our Pride 2015 resource so see when and where all of these great events will be taking place so you can come by and see us at each one! We always need volunteers! For more information, please visit: http://equalityvirginia.org/pride

Prides

Show us your pride!

June 4th, 2015

This June marks the 45th anniversary of the first pride parade in NYC, and in turn, the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Those milestones in LGBT history helped define a community that isn’t afraid to take action. Harness that spirit and celebrate it at pride festivals this summer! Get involved and enjoy your community — your attendance and participation make it great for everyone.

Click here to find a Pride near you and see where you can find the EV team this summer.

While we await the Supreme Court’s verdict on nation-wide marriage equality near the end of this month, we continue rallying for workplace fairness and basic protections for LGBT individuals and families. Virginia has never been closer to achieving equality, and we’re proud of that! Come out to Virginia’s pride festivals, meet members of Equality Virginia, and learn what you can do to help.

Virginia’s pride season starts in June and continues through October, with festivals statewide. Check out more than one and explore the beauty of the Old Dominion.

Find a pride event in your community
!


Want to get more involved with Pride in Virginia?


Volunteer with us!

We can always use a few smiling faces – join us at the EV table for a few hours at a Pride near you! If you are interested in volunteering, let us know what pride you will be going to by sending an email toinfo@equalityvirginia.org. We will get back to you to work out the final details! Volunteers will receive a free Equality Virginia t-shirt.


Donate
!  
We’ve got a small staff and a tight budget but it’s important to us to travel to various prides across the commonwealth and learn about what’s happening in your community.  Help us stock up and staff up for Prides, give $10 today!

Equality Virginia is excited to see your pride this summer!

 

When to cry over spilt Milk

May 20th, 2015

Thoughts on Harvey Milk Day

By Kyle Poulin

Remembering our past is an integral part of advancing our future; we need to see the good we’ve done and use it to inspire us to make unrelenting progress. How much has the LGBT community progressed since Harvey Milk was ardently advising all young people to come out for themselves, and in turn, each other? As of this year’s Harvey Milk day, the shift in society’s focus would suggest the answer to that question is “a lot.”

The first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California.

We Virginians celebrated the arrival of marriage equality throughout the Old Dominion, crying out of happiness that we can now legally stand by our loved ones. Yet we must also shed a tear for those who fought to deliver our rights but didn’t live to see this day. Over this thunderous victory we still hear the tinny of detractors fighting against us and equality. We must continue to defend the belief that our rights we are granted are inalienable, echoing Harvey Milk’s words, “All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try they cannot erase those words. That is what America is about.”

While this rings true in our hearts and minds, we are still faced with the insult of discrimination on the basis of our sexual orientation and gender identity. Should we be satisfied with what we’ve gotten so far and sit silently as we are subjected to the fear of losing our jobs or housing? No. Shake off the mindset of being thankful when it comes to human rights and cry out for them. Seventy five percent of Virginians favor a state law that would protect LGBT people from employment discrimination, so it’s up to our community and allies to nurture it into reality. Thirty one percent of same-sex couples looking for rental housing online in the Richmond area face adverse, differential treatment. If you face discrimination in a part of life as essential as finding a home then you deserve better.

Inequality and discrimination affect LGBT people of all ages. Today, there are school age children in Virginia and nationwide identifying their gender fluidity and sexual orientation with a firm and unyielding presence of mind. While this is a step forward for society, bathrooms, locker rooms and other school related facilities have come under scrutiny for their use by these students. Fortunately some of our communities and institutions, such as Fairfax County Public Schools, recognize and validate the students’ needs. This fulfills Milk’s vision for our youth that, “All young people regardless of sexual orientation or identity deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”

For those who haven’t received the support of their family, community, or government — cry for them. Cry out for them. Fight for them. Use your shared experiences as a community to empathize and endure, be your own best advocate. If Harvey Milk could stand alone and facilitate progress in equality, imagine what we can accomplish together.

What happened in Fairfax last week…

May 12th, 2015

By James Parrish, executive director

Last Thursday I was at the Fairfax County School Board meeting where they voted 10-1 to update their non-discrimination policy to include gender identity. This is the first time employees of a Virginia school system are covered by a non-discrimination policy that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. I would call this vote to update their policy remarkable except for the fact that Virginia’s leading corporations have had non-discrimination policies like this in place for years.  Why? Because it helps them retain the best and the brightest, is good for business, and it’s the right thing to do.  The truth is that all Virginia’s public employees and students should be protected from discrimination.   Even still, this policy update in Fairfax is a huge step forward for Virginia and something we are celebrating.

James Parrish with POFEV’S Paula Prettyman


This vote didn’t happen without you. 
Thank you to all of our supporters and community partners in Fairfax including POFEV, PFLAG, Fairfax County NAACP, and NOVA Pride, for supporting the Fairfax County School Board leading up to the vote. With your help, more than 2,000 emails were sent to the board from Fairfax constituents. Your advocacy made a difference.  

Leading up to the vote, there was a lot of energy on both sides, reminding us of how hard we still need to work to change hearts and minds.  I was particularly disappointed to see the chairman of the Fairfax Republican party turn this into a partisan issue. Protecting people from discrimination in the workplace isn’t a partisan issue. We all live by the golden rule of treat others as you would like to be treated. Gay and transgender Virginians are part of every family in our commonwealth, and just like everybody else they should be evaluated on their merits, not who they love or how they identify.

I also saw a lot of parents and community members passionately speak against updating Fairfax’s non-discrimination policy. Conversations about what it means to be transgender are new to many of us, and I understand how it can be confusing. However, hundreds of cities, counties, and states have already implemented policies to protect transgender people from discrimination with no negative consequences. These policies help build understanding and consensus that discrimination is wrong – period.  Another part of the equation is connecting members of our transgender community to the community at large.  Understanding, acceptance, and affirmation will only grow as more of us get to know transgender people.  Click here to see some of the ways EV is connecting communities and building understanding.

You see, this is a large part of what we do at Equality Virginia. Throughout the commonwealth, we are behind the scenes connecting our partners on the ground with community members, resources, and best practices. Our work is taking place in board rooms and offices – from local school systems, to Governor McAuliffe’s and Attorney General Herring’s administrations.  Even when our work isn’t covered on the front page of the morning paper, we are actively working with communities throughout Virginia to bring LGBT equality home. Thanks for all your support that enables us to do this important work.

I was happy to be in Fairfax to see the vote on this positive policy update. It is great to witness positive change in our communities. Congratulations Fairfax – you are leading Virginia forward!

 

Protect and Support all Fairfax County Students

May 7th, 2015

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Today the Fairfax County School Board will vote to update the district’s non-discrimination policy to include gender identity. When updated, the policy will protect all students and employees from discrimination.

This is Fairfax County’s opportunity to lead Virginia in the right direction.  

Here’s what you can do to stand up for equality and fairness in Fairfax County:

  1. Click here to send a letter to the Fairfax County School Board Members thanking them for considering this policy, and urging them to vote YES tonight. They need to hear from you!
  2. Join Equality Virginia and your community members at the School Board Meeting.   Please wear purple to show that you support inclusive policies for all students, teachers, and employees. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, 22042.  Click here for map.

Equality Virginia has been working with school systems for the last two years to update their non-discrimination policies to protect LGBT students. And now, a recent opinion issued by Attorney General Mark Herring gives local school boards the authority to also protect their employees.

The current Fairfax Schools policy reads: No student, employee, or applicant for employment in the Fairfax County Public Schools shall, on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, or disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity, as required by law. Adding “gender identity” to this policy will place Fairfax County among the hundreds of cities, counties, and states across the country that are leading the nation forward.

Please send a letter to the school board members today
, and join us with your purple tonight – help Fairfax County School Board do the right thing and move Virginia forward!

Equality Means Business is Growing!

April 30th, 2015
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Housing professionals learning about how they can join Equality Means Business

During the month of April – Fair Housing Month – Equality Virginia partnered with Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME)  to educate Virginians about our efforts to eliminate housing discrimination against LGBT Virginians, and also to show housing professionals that there’s an exciting way they can help!

The month culminated with a Fair Housing Breakfast reception in Richmond, sponsored by Weinstein Properties at their Kings Crossing property.  A special thanks to Richmond Business Alliance  for helping us spread the word!

Throughout the month we have been encouraging housing professionals and companies to join the new multi-state campaign Equality Means Business designed to showcase businesses that know how vital LGBT customers and employees are to their success in a modern economy.  Housing professionals including Weinstein Properties, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development,  Second Act Communities, and Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation are among the newest  members of Equality Means Business.

This program is for ALL small businesses who want to increase their business and stand up for fairness and equality. The Equality Means Business program is growing every week – in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina –  meaning that LGBT-friendly professionals and businesses are coming together not just across the commonwealth, but across the region to create a more friendly and inclusive business community.

From restaurants in Virginia Beach, to doctors in Chester, to shops in Blacksburg, we’ve seen a growing number of businesses pledging to keep their doors open to all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. All professionals and businesses that join Equality Means Business are added to an online directory, so consumers can be sure that they are supporting local businesses that have taken a stand against LGBT discrimination.

VA_logoThere is also a way for large corporations to be involved! Equality Virginia’s Virginia Fairness project recognizes several large corporations, including Altria, Capital One, CarMax, Dominion, and Genworth, that have policies clearly demonstrating a commitment to the safety and well-being of their LGBT employees.

As we work to change laws to protect LGBT Virginians,  we are glad to have companies like these that support diversity and improve Virginia’s reputation as a welcoming place to live, work, and visit.  Employees of Virginia Fairness accredited companies are respected and valued because their employers know that supporting workplace fairness makes good business sense, improves Virginia’s national reputation, and keeps Virginia competitive.

Equality Virginia wants to keep the momentum from the successful Fair Housing Month going! We are always happy to receive new Equality Means Business members, so if you know of any local businesses that are willing to take a stand against discrimination, let them know about Equality Means Business!