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VIRGINIA’S GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Every year, Equality Virginia monitors all legislation introduced to the Virginia General Assembly and advocates on behalf of Virginia’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. We work to introduce and support pro-equality legislation and to oppose bills that move us backward.

While our work to protect employees statewide from workplace discrimination continues, we ask members of Virginia’s General Assembly to sign a statement assuring that they do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in their legislative office. Click here to see if your Senator or Delegate has signed


2017 General Assembly Recap

The General Assembly session for 2017 began on Wednesday, January 11 and concluded on Saturday, February 25. We tracked bills as they were filed and updated our supporters with the legislation’s progress. To ensure you receive those updates, make sure you’re on our list to receive action updates.

In seven short weeks, LGBT Virginians faced a barrage of harmful legislation along with a few bills seeking to end discriminatory practices. As usual, this session was not without its ups and downs, and while we saw many of the same harmful and discriminatory bills we’ve seen in years past, we also watched LGBT-affirming legislation make it farther than it ever has, although ultimately not to the Governor’s desk. Nevertheless, we’re heartened by this sign of progress.

Your advocacy was out in full force during this session. More than 10,000 emails were sent and countless calls were made to legislators urging them to keep their LGBT constituents a priority in policymaking.  Thanks to all who were involved in Equality Virginia’s Day of Action on February 7, 2017!  The Day of Action empowers LGBT and allied Virginians to create positive change, meet legislators and discuss legislation, and attend workshops hosted by some of the area’s top attorneys and fellow activists. Check out the photos from this year’s event here!

Fortunately, Del. Bob Marshall’s bills (HB 1612, HB 1667, and HB 2011), all attempts to stigmatize and harm the LGBT community, failed to even make it out of subcommittee, preventing Virginia from following in the footsteps of North Carolina’s fallout from HB2.

Unfortunately, resolutions that would have removed the same-sex marriage ban that still exists in our state Constitution also failed to make out of committee. Legislation (SB 783/Ebbin and SB 822/Wexton) that would have ended discriminatory practices in housing and employment respectively, both passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate but failed in the House on a party-line vote.

HB 2025 (Freitas), which would have given a license to discriminate against loving lesbian and gay couples, passed both the Senate and House and was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe.

The bills we followed in the 2017 session:

STOP HARMFUL LEGISLATION:

Religious freedom; solemnization of marriage SB 1324 (Carrico): Provides that no individual authorized to solemnize any marriage shall be required to do so and no religious organization shall be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization of any marriage if the action would cause the individual or organization to violate a sincerely held religious belief. EV OPPOSES

Status: Passed Senate (21-Y 19-N); Vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Physical Privacy Act – HB 1612 (Marshall): Requires that a government entity provide for members of the opposite sex separate restrooms and other facilities in a building owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the entity. The bill provides that, subject to certain exceptions, no individual shall enter a restroom or other facility designated for use by members of the opposite sex and creates a cause of action against the government entity if they do.  EV OPPOSES

Status: Left in House General Laws Committee

Public contracts; civil liability; gender identity; sexual orientation – HB 1667 (Marshall): Prohibits agencies of the Commonwealth and other public bodies from requiring any contractor entering into a public contract to agree to additional nondiscrimination provisions with respect to gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill also provides civil immunity for any business or nonprofit organization that does not provide any benefit or accommodation with respect to gender identity or sexual orientation.  EV OPPOSES

Status: Left in House General Laws Committee

Discrimination; separation of the sexes – HB 2011 (Marshall):  EV OPPOSES

Status: Left in House General Laws Committee

Religious freedom; solemnization of marriage HB 2025 (Freitas): Provides that no individual authorized to solemnize any marriage shall be required to do so and no religious organization shall be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization of any marriage if the action would cause the individual or organization to violate a sincerely held religious belief. EV OPPOSES

Status: Passed in the House (57-Y 37-N); Passed in the Senate (21-Y 19-N); Vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe

UPDATE VIRGINIA’S LAWS TO REFLECT MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Same-sex marriages; civil unions – HB 1395 (Sickles), SB 782 (Ebbin): Repeals existing obsolete law banning same-sex marriages and civil unions. Read more here. EV SUPPORTS

SB 782 Status: Passed-by indefinitely (killed) in Courts of Justice with letter (10-Y 2-N)

HB 1395 Status: Left in Courts of Justice Committee

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); marriage – HJ 538 (Sickles), SJ 216 (Ebbin), SJ 220 (Locke): Proposes the repeal of the constitutional amendment dealing with marriage that was approved by referendum at the November 2006 election. Read more here.  EV SUPPORTS

HJ 538 Status: Left in Privileges and Elections Committee

SJ 216/SJ 220 Status: Both were voted to full committee with a recommendation to refer to code commission

END DISCRIMINATION

Virginia Human Rights Act; nondiscrimination in public employment – SB 783 (Ebbin): Prohibits discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as defined in the bill. Read more here. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Passed the Senate (25-Y 14-N); House Subcommittee failed to recommend reporting (2-Y 4-N)

Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices, sexual orientation, etc – SB 822 (Wexton): Adds discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as an unlawful discriminatory housing practice. The bill defines “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Read more here. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Passed the Senate (25-Y 14-N); House Subcommittee failed to recommend reporting (2-Y 4-N)

Virginia Human Rights Act; public employment, public accommodation, and housing; prohibited discrimination; sexual orientation HB 2129 (Levine): Prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation. EV SUPPORTS WITH AMENDED LANGUAGE 

Status: Subcommittee recommends to not report with substitute (5-Y 2-N)

Prohibited discrimination in employment – HB 2057 (Kory): Prohibits discrimination in private or public employment based on sexual orientation. EV SUPPORTS WITH AMENDED LANGUAGE 

Status: Subcommittee failed to recommend reporting out of committee (5-N 2-Y)

BUILD SAFE COMMUNITIES

Hate crimes; gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability; penalty – SB 1524 (Favola): Adds disability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery, or trespass for the purpose of damaging another’s property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Passed-by-indefinitely in Courts of Justice (9-Y 6-N)

Hate crimes; reporting to State Police – HB 1702 (Sullivan): Includes within the definition of “hate crime” a criminal act committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification and requires the reporting of the commission of such crime to the State Police. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Subcommittee failed to recommend reporting (3-Y 5-N)

Hate crimes; gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability; penalty HB 1776 (Plum): Adds gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery, or trespass for the purpose of damaging another’s property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense. The bill also adds these categories of victims to the categories of hate crimes that are to be reported to the central repository of information regarding hate crimes maintained by the Virginia State Police. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Tabled by voice vote

Study; Virginia State Crime Commission; hate crimes; report HJ 708 (Plum): Seeks to fund the study the prevalence of hate crimes in the Commonwealth and the adequacy of the current Criminal Code provisions in addressing such offenses in comparison to the laws of other states across the nation. EV SUPPORTS THIS STUDY

Status: Tabled in Rules Committee by voice vote

Denouncing the intimidation of the Commonwealth’s residents – HR 303 (Lopez):  Affirms the commitment to diversity, and safeguarding the civil rights and dignity of all Virginians. EV SUPPORTS

Status: Tabled in Rules Committee (15-Y 0-N)

OTHER LEGISLATION

Female genital mutilation; criminal penalty and civil action – SB 1060 (Black): EV IS MONITORING

Status: Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N)

Virginia Human Rights Act; unlawful discriminatory practice; anti-Semitism – HB 2261 (LaRock): EV IS MONITORING

Status: Left in General Laws


 

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View the 2016 General Assembly action!
We were successful in killing all of the bad bills this session, but unfortunately none of the bills that we supported passed out of the House this session.

  • STOP HARMFUL LEGISLATION:

    Government Nondiscrimination Act; creation – HB 773 (Gilbert): Creates the Government Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits a government entity from taking any discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman and that the terms “man” and “woman” refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics of the individual at the time of birth. OPPOSE

    Status: House: Failed to pass in House

    Religious freedom; solemnization of marriage – SB 41 (Carrico): Provides that no individual authorized to solemnize any marriage shall be required to do so and no religious organization shall be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization of any marriage if the action would cause the individual or organization to violate a sincerely held religious belief. Read more here. OPPOSE

    Status: Vetoed by Governor

    Sex or gender discrimination; applicable federal law – HB 77 (Marshall): Provides that for the purposes of the Virginia Human Rights Act, an “unlawful discriminatory practice” shall not include conduct that violates any federal administrative policy, rule, or regulation adopted on or after January 1, 2012. The language undermines federal executive orders meant to protect Virginia’s LGBT community. Read more here. OPPOSE

    Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Discrimination; ordinances or regulations prohibiting – HB 385 (Marshall): Prohibits any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including a locality or school board, from enacting an ordinance or adopting a regulation prohibiting discrimination on any basis other than race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, age, marital status, or disability.OPPOSE

    Status: Failed to report (defeated) in General Laws (10-Y 12-N)

    Discrimination; specification of certain terms relating to sex or gender – HB 397 (LaRock): Specifies that the terms “because of gender,” “because of sex,” “on the basis of gender,” and “on the basis of sex” and terms of similar import when used in reference to discrimination in the Code and acts of the General Assembly mean because of or on the basis of the biologic character or quality that distinguishes an individual as either male or female as determined by analysis of the individual’s gonadal, internal and external morphologic, chromosomal, and hormonal characteristics. OPPOSE

    Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Certificate of birth; amendment; designation of sex – HB 431 (LaRock): Provides that the designation of sex on a certificate of birth shall only be changed pursuant to an order of a court of competent jurisdiction indicating that the initial designation of sex was incorrect due to a typographical error.OPPOSE

    Status: Left in Committee on General Laws

    Use of restroom facilities; penalty – HB 663HB 781 (Cole): Requires the Director of the Department of General Services and local school boards to develop and implement policies that require, respectively, that every restroom designated for public use in any public building on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth and every public school restroom, locker room, and shower room that is designated for use by a specific gender to solely be used by individuals whose anatomical sex matches such gender designation. OPPOSE

    Status: Failed to report (defeated) in General Laws (8-Y 14-N)

    Marriage licenses; issuance by State Registrar of Vital Records, conscience clause – SB 40(Carrico): Provides that a clerk or deputy clerk shall not be required to issue a marriage license if such clerk has an objection to the issuance of such license on personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds.Read more here. OPPOSE

    Status: Left in Courts of Justice

     

    END DISCRIMINATION

    Virginia Human Rights Act; nondiscrimination in public employment – SB 12 (Ebbin and McEachin): Prohibits discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, as defined in the bill. Read more here. SUPPORT

    Status: House: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices, sexual orientation, etc – HB 300(Simon), SB 67 (Wexton): Adds discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as an unlawful discriminatory housing practice. The bill defines “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” Read more here. SUPPORT

    HB 300 Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    SB 67 Status: House: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Virginia Human Rights Act; prohibited discrimination in employment – HB 179 (Kory), HB 429(Villanueva): Prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill defines “sexual orientation” as a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression. SUPPORT WITH AMENDED  LANGUAGE

    Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Prohibited discrimination in employment and housing – HB 913 (Toscano): Prohibits discrimination in private or public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. SUPPORT

    Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Virginia Human Rights Act; public employment, public accommodation, and housing – HB 1005(Levine): Prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill defines “sexual orientation” as a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality, or gender identity or expression. SUPPORT WITH AMENDED  LANGUAGE

    Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    BUILD SAFE COMMUNITIES

    Hate crimes; reporting to State Police – HB 35 (Sullivan), SB 82 (Favola): Includes within the definition of “hate crime” a criminal act committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification and requires the reporting of the commission of such crime to the State Police.Read more here. SUPPORT

    HB 35 Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    SB 82 Status: Passed by indefinitely (killed) in Courts of Justice (9-Y 6-N)

    UPDATE VIRGINIA’S LAWS TO REFLECT MARRIAGE EQUALITY

    Same-sex marriages; civil unions – HB 5 (Simon), SB 10 (Ebbin): Repeals existing obsolete law banning same-sex marriages and civil unions. Read more here. SUPPORT

    HB 5 Status: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    SB 10 Status: Continued to 2017 in Courts of Justice (13-Y 1-N)

    Constitutional amendment (first resolution); marriage – SJ 2 (Ebbin), SJ 9 (Locke), SJ 32(McEachin): Proposes the repeal of the constitutional amendment dealing with marriage that was approved by referendum at the November 2006 election. Read more here. SUPPORT

    Status:  Continued to 2017 in Privileges and Elections (12-Y 0-N)

    END CONVERSION THERAPY

    Conversion therapy; prohibited, no state funds shall be expended for purpose of therapy – HB 427(Hope), SB 262 (Surovell), SB 267 (Dance): Prohibits any health care provider or person who performs counseling as part of his training for any profession licensed by a regulatory board of the Department of Health Professions from engaging in conversion therapy with any person under 18 years of age.SUPPORT

    Status HB 427: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

    Status SB 262, 267: Passed by indefinitely (killed) in Education and Health (8-Y 5-N)


Additional Resources