2/7/2015: This Week at the General Assembly

Our hard work paid off!

With your help, Equality Virginia has been working hard to pass two important bills through the Senate.  On Tuesday, we succeeded!  Bills that protect LGBT public employees from workplace discrimination (SB 785) and modernize the Code of Virginia to reflect marriage equality (SB 1211) passed through the Senate with bi-partisan support.  Before  discussing the fate of these bills in the House of Delegates, and how you can help, we’d like to thank a few of the elected officials who were instrumental in making this happen.

Special thanks to Senators Donald McEachin and Adam Ebbin for introducing these important bills and for their long-time support of Virginia’s LGBT community.  Also, we are thankful for Senator Barbara Favola who spoke in favor of SB 785 on the Senate Floor and urged her fellow Senators to support it.  You can watch a video of her remarks here.  As you’ve probably already seen in the news, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam broke the tie vote on SB 785!  In his words: “I got to do something I was really proud of…I cast the first tie-breaking vote of the 2015 General Assembly, and it was a big one.” At Equality Virginia, we are so grateful that we have a supportive Lt. Governor, and that he was able to play a pivotal role in getting this legislation out of the Senate.

Most of all, we are thankful for all of you and for your participation in the political process. Tuesday (Feb 3) was our Day of Action, where we were happy to have so many of you join us.  After a day of lobbying and attending great workshops, the evening celebration began! Together with more than 30 legislators, Attorney General Herring, Lt. Governor Northam, and Governor McAulliffe, we celebrated our success on Tuesday evening at our Legislative Reception. Thank you to all of you who were able to join us, or who took action from home! Click here to check out some pics from the Day of Action and Legislative Reception.

Getting these two bills out of the Senate is huge.  It means that we are on the right track.  But, we have a much larger fight when these bills make it over to the House of Delegates.  If you haven’t already, TAKE ACTION, and tell your Delegate that we need their support.

As we celebrate being one step closer to gaining LGBT equality, the Family Foundation rallied their base this week (mainly in regard to SB 1211). They sent an email out that said “with the help of radical left-wing legislators, activists pushed their homosexual agenda into a committee where they hoped no one would notice” and called the passage of SB 1211 an “attack on our democracy.” Actually, here’s the truth: The Senate Clerk assigned the committee, and we had no role whatsoever in that decision. We also enjoyed support from Republican Senators Norment, Stosch, and Watkins on that bill – hardly “radical left-wing legislators.”  No links from their email went to anything substantive, but instead re-directed the reader to donate to the Family Foundation.  They have also sent out emails asking their supporters to stand against workplace fairness.

Unfortunately we are up against a very well-funded and influential group.  But, with your involvement and financial support, I have no doubt that equality and fairness will come to Virginia.  We will not give up until it does! This week at the General Assembly gave us all some needed momentum to keep up this fight.  Our hard work paid off. We have a few weeks left before the 2015 General Assembly session comes to a close – please choose at least two ways to be involved this coming week:

We’ve lost some and won some – but two weeks in a row, we’ve been able to report good news!  Last week was a big win with Delegate Marshall’s license to discriminate bill failing to get out of subcommittee, and this week we passed two important bills in the Senate! Thanks for sticking with us through the good and the bad!

 

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