Archive for the ‘Press Room’ Category

Equality Virginia applauds Attorney General opinion regarding discrimination in Virginia

June 21st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RICHMOND, Va. (May 10, 2016) – In an official opinion issued today, May 10, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mark Herring, has concluded that:

  1. To the extent that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is recognized by federal courts and agencies as impermissible sex discrimination under federal anti-discrimination laws, such conduct would also violate the Virginia Human Rights Act which explicitly makes any violation of federal anti-discrimination law a concurrent violation of state law.
  2. With respect to other anti-discrimination measures in Virginia law, the same rationale leading federal courts and agencies to increasingly recognize that, in many circumstances, discrimination against LGBT Americans can constitute impermissible sex discrimination would most likely lead a Virginia court to reach the same conclusion.

This opinion was issued in response to inquiries by Delegates Dave LaRock and Ken Plum and Senator Tom Garrett.

Following the release of the opinion, Equality Virginia’s Executive Director James Parrish said in response, “Equality Virginia praises Attorney General Herring’s thoughtful, comprehensive analysis of current state and federal law that confirms that LGBT Virginians are protected from discrimination based on sex – including sexual orientation and gender identity – under the Virginia Human Rights Act.”

James Parrish continued, “Protecting gay and transgender Virginians from discrimination does not require expanding the definition of sex and gender but only that we apply existing federal law to LGBT people. Although these protections are increasingly clear based on federal law and judicial decisions, we will also continue to call on the Virginia legislature to make these protections even more explicit under state law.”

According to a release accompanying the opinion, The Virginia Human Rights Act uniquely makes all violations of federal civil rights law a concurrent violation of state law by stating that “Conduct that violates any Virginia or federal statute or regulation governing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, or disability shall be an ‘unlawful discriminatory practice’ for the purposes of this chapter.”

Therefore, because federal courts and agencies are regularly finding discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to be illegal sex discrimination, any such conduct that violates relevant federal anti-discrimination laws is a concurrent violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act.

Attorney General Herring issued the following statement regarding the opinion:

“The General Assembly has recognized the right of every Virginian to live, learn, and work without fear of discrimination by enacting the Virginia Human Rights Act and other anti-discrimination statutes.

“The law in this area has developed rapidly and the clear trajectory has been towards a more inclusive understanding of sex discrimination that encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This growing body of case law has not required an expansion of the definition of ‘sex’ or ‘gender.’ It has merely required courts to apply well-established prohibitions against sex discrimination and gender stereotyping to LGBT Americans.

“The private sector has been saying clearly for years that it will not tolerate discrimination against LGBT employees, and our nation’s courts are increasingly recognizing that discrimination against LGBT Americans is inconsistent with the language and the very purpose of some of our most important civil rights protections.

“We don’t need to look far to see the division, discord, and pain that can happen when a state tries to enshrine discrimination against certain people it fears or does not understand. In recent years, Virginia has rejected this kind of misguided and sometimes mean-spirited approach. As the courts continue to put away the vestiges of discrimination and unequal treatment, I hope we will continue to show that Virginia rejects discrimination and welcomes all who would call our Commonwealth home. ”

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Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities. More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Equality Virginia applauds Governor’s Veto of Final Anti-LGBT Bill

June 21st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RICHMOND, Va. (March 30, 2016) – Following up on a promise made three months ago at the beginning of Virginia’s legislative session, Governor Terry McAuliffe has officially vetoed SB 41 (Carrico), an unnecessary bill that would provide broad and undefined exemptions to people and companies “operating in connection with a religious organization” that would discriminate against LGBT couples and families; moreover, the bill ignores that protections for religious leaders and organizations not wanting to solemnize gay and lesbian weddings already exist.

“Equality Virginia applauds Governor McAuliffe for fulfilling his promise to veto this discriminatory and destructive bill,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Senator Carrico’s bill sought to blatantly and directly discriminate against gay and lesbian couples and families under the guise of religious freedom, and we are thankful to have a governor opposing this and working to make Virginia more open and welcoming for everyone, not less.”

SB 41 was one of nine discriminatory bills filed in Virginia this year targeting gay and transgender individuals, signifying an unprecedented amount of LGBT-centric legislation filed in one legislative session.

“While we are happy that SB 41 will not become law, the General Assembly’s votes against fairness and non-discrimination make it clear that our work is far from over,” said Parrish. “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 by passing discriminatory legislation.”

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Since 1989, Equality Virginia has been the leading statewide advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians. We believe in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where everyone is valued, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Learn more about Equality Virginia online at EqualityVirginia.org, or connect with us on Facebook.com/EqualityVA and Twitter @EqualityVA.

2 Anti-LGBT Bills Pass Out of House Committee

June 21st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RICHMOND, Va. (February 8, 2016) – On Monday, Virginia House of Delegates Committee on General Laws voted to pass HB 781 (Cole) and HB 385 (Marshall), two anti-LGBT bills that would force transgender youth and people to use the incorrect restroom or locker room in any public school or government-owned building, as well as remove already-existing discrimination protections for over 25 percent of gay and transgender public school employees, respectively.

Despite opposition in committee hearings and from numerous constituents across Virginia, the bills passed #-# and will now go before the House floor.

“In today’s committee hearing, Delegates Gilbert, Albo, Wright, Peace, Anderson, Greason, Knight, LeMunyon, Helsel, Robinson, Yost, Hudges, Bell, Minchew, and Leftwich showed blatant disregard for gay and transgender Virginians by vote to pass these two harmful and discriminatory bills,” said Executive Director James Parrish. “These bills represent a serious setback for Virginia. Our hope now is that the rest of the House will represent the majority of Virginians by opposing this legislation that would weaken the inclusivity and diversity our commonwealth has worked so hard to move towards.”

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Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities. More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Equality Virginia disappointed in House Subcommittee Vote

June 21st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RICHMOND, Va. (February 4, 2016) – On Tuesday, February 9, Virginia House of Delegates Subcommittee #4 on General Laws voted to pass an unprecedented six anti-LGBT bills, while choosing to vote against bills that would grant protections to gay and transgender Virginians.
Equality Virginia, along with gay and transgender community advocates, attended the subcommittee meeting to testify against the harmful legislation and speak in support of the pro-equality bills. The following six bills are opposed by Equality Virginia, and are considered anti- LGBT bills by Virginia’s gay and transgender community:

HB 77 (Marshall): Allows for discrimination in violation with federal policy
HB 385 (Marshall): Removes discrimination protections covering more than 1/4 of gay and transgender public school employees
HB 397 (LaRock): Contradicts federal policy, narrowly defines sex and gender to exclude transgender people from any protections against discrimination
HB 663, HB 781 (Cole): Stigmatize transgender youth and force them to use incorrect public accommodations
HB 773 (Gilbert): Provides a license to discriminate against gay and lesbian families

The six anti-LGBT bills passed by House Subcommittee #4 seek to harm gay and transgender Virginians in a number of ways, from discriminating against LGBT families to prohibiting transgender people and youth from using the appropriate restrooms in schools and government buildings.

“Today Delegates X, X, X, X, and X stood in the path to progress and equality by passing bills that would harm gay and transgender Virginians and killing bills that would provide them much needed protections. These delegates refuse to acknowledge what the majority of Virginia has long believed: protecting LGBT Virginians is not only the right thing to do, but it’s what is best for the overall success of the commonwealth,” said Executive Director James Parrish. “Our hope now is the broad Republican support in the Senate will provide the bipartisan support needed to properly and accurately represent Virginia’s people.”

While Equality Virginia expresses disappointment at the subcommittee’s votes on the legislation heard, EV also thanks the seven patrons of pro-equality bills that would protect LGBT people across the commonwealth. These legislators are helping to pave the way for full, lived and legal equality in Virginia.
Equality Virginia will continue to monitor any bills affecting Virginia’s LGBT community as they move out of committee and to the floor.

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Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities. More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

LGBT-supportive bills killed in House Subcommittee #4 on General Laws are as follows: HB 179 (Kory), HB 300 (Simon), HB 427 (Hope), HB 429 (Villanueva), HB 913 (Toscano), and HB 1005 (Levine).

Gov. McAuliffe, AG Herring, LG Northam to attend Equality Virginia Legislative Reception

June 21st, 2016

Media Alert

Equality Virginia will be joined be Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring, Lieutenant Governor Northam, members of the General Assembly, and community advocates to recognize the 2016 legislative session and steps being taken to move equality forward in the commonwealth.

When: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Contact: If members of the press would like to attend this reception, please contact Brandon Day at [email protected]; 804-643-4816.

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Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities. More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

EV PAC Endorses Pro-LGBT Equality Candidates for Senate and House Elections

November 10th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brandon Day | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

RICHMOND, October 7, 2015 — Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee (EV PAC) announced today its full round of endorsements for Virginia’s upcoming Senate and House of Delegates elections, taking the candidates’ viability and support for issues of concern to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community into consideration.

EV PAC-endorsed candidates have made public in their candidate questionnaires their support of legislation to protect public employees from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as well as their support of legislation to prohibit discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in public accommodations.

The following candidates have been endorsed by EV PAC:

Senate  

 

 

 

House of Delegates 47 Patrick Hope*
1 John Miller* 2 Joshua King 48 Rip Sullivan*
7 Gary McCollum 11 Sam Rasoul* 49 Alfonso Lopez*
9 Donald McEachin* 13 Don Shaw 53 Marcus Simon*
10 Dan Gecker 31 Sara Townsend 63 Lashrecse Aird
13 Jill McCabe 32 Elizabeth Miller 69 Betsy Carr*
16 Rosalyn Dance* 34 Kathleen Murphy* 71 Jennifer McClellan*
19 Mike Hamlar 37 David Bulova* 79 Steve Heretick
29 Jeremy McPike 38 Kaye Kory* 86 Jennifer Boysko
31 Barbara Favola 39 Vivian Watts* 87 John Bell
33 Jennifer Wexton* 41 Eileen Filler-Corn* 93 Monty Mason*
36 Scott Surovell 44 Paul Krizek 94 Shelly Simonds
37 David Marsden* 45 Mark Levine 95 Marcia Price

*Incumbent

 

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Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee seeks equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians through supporting pro-equality candidates in public office.  Since 1989, EVPAC’s affiliate organization has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EVAdvocates.org.  Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Equality Virginia Political Action Committee (EV PAC) Endorses Equality-Supporting Candidates for the Virginia Senate

September 28th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Brandon Day | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

 

RICHMOND – September 28, 2015– Equality Virginia Political Action Committee (EV PAC) announced today its endorsements for four key competitive races that will determine the leadership for the Virginia Senate election.  In its decision, the LGBT advocacy organization took into account where each candidate stands on ending workplace and housing discrimination, banning “conversion therapy” practices and creating more inclusive schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.

“The majority of Virginians support equality for gay and transgender Virginians,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia Advocates.  “The success of these four endorsed candidates will ensure the Virginia Senate is reflective of this support.”

EV PAC endorses Senate candidates: Gary McCollum v. Frank Wagner (SD-7), Dan Gecker (SD-10), Jill McCabe v. Dick Black (SD-13), and Jeremy McPike (SD-29).

EV PAC supports the challengers in Districts 7 and 13, because the incumbents have historically voted and spoken against gay and transgender rights. In the previous legislative session, incumbents Frank Wagner and Dick Black voted against a bill on second-parent adoption, putting children of gay and lesbian parents at risk, and against a workplace non-discrimination bill to protect LGBT employees.

“The candidates endorsed by EV PAC understand the importance of LGBT equality, especially in comparison to their opponents. Our elected leaders strengthen our business community, schools and the Commonwealth as a whole by valuing the rights of gay and transgender Virginians, said Parrish. “We will do everything we can to ensure these candidates win the vote in November.”

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Equality Virginia’s Political Action Committee seeks equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians through supporting pro-equality candidates in public office.  Since 1989, EVPAC’s affiliate organization has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EVAdvocates.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA.

Equality Virginia celebrates the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality

June 26th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 26, 2015

Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected]; 804-643-4816

In response to the June 26 Supreme Court ruling that under the Fourteenth Amendment states are required to issue marriage licenses between two people of the same sex, the following statement can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director, Equality Virginia:

“Finally the law of the land reflects the beliefs and values held by the American people. Thousands of dedicated and passionate people fought for decades to ensure that loving lesbian and gay couples have the freedom to marry the person they love, many of whom are no longer here to see the fruits of their labor.  America will celebrate this day for a long time to come – the second anniversary of the United States v. Windsor, the twelfth anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, and now in 2015, the day it was decided that we all have the freedom to marry the person we love in any state we call home.

With this decision, we no longer have two Americas when it comes to relationship recognition.  But, our work is far from over.  I sincerely hope that this historic step toward equality will increase the momentum and support in Virginia and other states for ending discrimination against gay and transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations.  We cannot stop until the day comes when nobody faces discrimination and when all people are accepted – and celebrated – for everything they are.

America is finally on the right side of history when it comes to marriage.  Love won.  Let’s use this love to build true and lasting equality for all. “

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Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at EqualityVirginia.org. Connect on Facebook.com/EqualityVA or Twitter @EqualityVA

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe Declares June LGBT Pride Month

June 11th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 2, 2015

Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected]; 804-643-4816

RICHMOND – On Tuesday evening at a reception held at the Governor’s Mansion, Governor Terry McAuliffe proclaimed June 2015 as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride month.   The proclamation, presented to Equality Virginia, reads that the Commonwealth of Virginia celebrates its diverse LGBT community and is dedicated to fostering acceptance and preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We have a good friend in Governor McAuliffe,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “As we focus on creating a Virginia where gay and transgender people can live, work, play, and do business without the fear of facing discrimination, we are grateful to have the Governor’s participation and outspoken support.”

Governor McAuliffe has spoken at a number of Equality Virginia events over the last few months, including the Virginia Fairness Reception where the organization honored  Fortune 500 Companies based in Richmond that have policies in place to protect gay and transgender employees.  He has been a long-time supporter of the freedom to marry, and his first executive order protects gay and transgender state employees from workplace discrimination.

“Making this Commonwealth more open and welcoming to all is an essential part of my effort to build a new Virginia economy. I am proud of the progress we have made together on ending workplace discrimination, embracing the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and finally allowing same-sex couples to adopt. I look forward to continuing to work with my friends in the LGBT community to advocate for polices that make Virginia more open and equal to everyone,” said Governor McAuliffe.

This is the second year in a row that Governor McAuliffe has declared June LGBT Pride Month.

“Virginia is moving in the right direction, but even as we celebrate successes, there is a lot more work to do before the commonwealth is truly welcoming to gay and transgender individuals and families.    As we continue to change hearts, minds, and laws, we are thankful to have the full support of Governor Terry McAuliffe,” said Parrish.

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Equality Virginia Applauds ACLU and ACLU of Virginia for filing case against Gloucester County School Board

June 11th, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 11, 2015
Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp,
[email protected]; 804-643-4816

In response to the lawsuit filed on June 11  by the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia against the Gloucester County School Board for adopting a discriminatory bathroom policy, the following statement can be attributed to James Parrish, executive director, Equality Virginia:

“Transgender students have the same needs as other students, and they must be given the same opportunity to succeed.  The job of our schools is to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, and part of that is ensuring that no child is stigmatized or treated differently because of who they are.  Affirming children for who they are is simply the right thing to do, and rejecting a child’s deeply held sense of who they are can have very serious consequences.  It is sad that this is even a debate.”