2020 LGBT Legislative Victories

A Year of Success!

This General Assembly session was historic and life-changing for Virginia’s LGBT community! Never before has our legislature passed so many pieces of LGBT-friendly legislation. We will move forward with a changed legal landscape where LGBT Virginians can proudly live, work, and play in a more inclusive Commonwealth. Keep reading to find out more about the 16 pro-equality bills that passed the General Assembly. Unless otherwise noted, laws go into effect on July 1, 2020.

End Discrimination

The Virginia Values Act, patroned by Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Mark Sickles, bans discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, and public spaces. The Senate version of the bill (SB 868), passed the Senate 30-9  After the House added a substitute and passed it 54-46, the Senate agreed to the substitute 27-13, and it is now on its way to the governor’s desk. Once signed, Virginia will become the first state in the South to protect LGBT people from discrimination. Twenty states and D.C. already ban discrimination against LGBT people.

Thank you to Delegate Delores McQuinn, Senator Jennifer Boysko, and Senator Jennifer McClellan who all patroned individual nondiscrimination bills, and became chief co-patrons of the Virginia Values Act. Thank you also to the countless advocates, faith leaders, business supporters, and partner organizations in the Virginia Values Coalition who worked tirelessly to ensure LGBT Virginians are protected from discrimination in every facet of their day-to-day lives.

Delegate Mark Levine’s HB 1049, which updates Virginia’s code to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the House 59-39, and then passed the Senate with a substitute 24-14. The House initially rejected the substitute 1-97, however the Senate insisted on the substitute 24-15, so the bill went into conference committee to resolve the two chambers’ differences. Ultimately, the bill, as amended in conference committee, was agreed to by the Senate 26-13, and the House adopted it 52-40. Next, it will move on its way to the governor’s desk. The bill adds LGBT non-discrimination protections to 70 different places in Virginia’s code covering many areas of law.

Delegate Danica Roem’s HB 696 allows localities to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances. It passed with supermajorities in the House 75-24 and the Senate 34-5, and it has been signed into law by Governor Northam.

Additionally, Delegate Roem’s HB 1429 prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against transgender Virginians. The bill passed the House 54-41, then passed the Senate 22-18. Luckily, the senate rejected an amendment that would have allowed for a religious exemption that would have denied transgender people’s equal access to care. Next, the bill will go to the governor’s desk for signing. Once signed, Virginia will join 13 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico in banning health insurance discrimination against transgender people. Thank you to the everyone from the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, and other organizations who supported this crucial bill.

Build Safe Communities

Delegate Richard Sullivan’s HB 276 and Delegate Kenneth Plum’s HB 618 update Virginia’s hate crimes law to protect LGBT people and track data on hate crimes. HB 276 passed the House 61-37, and the Senate added a substitute 27-13, which the House adopted 60-39. HB 618 passed the House 56-43, and the Senate passed the bill 24-16 with a substitute to match HB 276’s substitute. The House adopted HB 618’s substitute 54-43. HB 276 has been signed into law by the governor, while HB 618 is on its way to the governor’s desk. Virginia joins the rank of 20 other states and D.C. by protecting LGBT people from hate crimes.

Protect LGBTQ Youth

Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 161 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 145 are companion bills that ensure public schools provide an equal learning environment to transgender students. HB 145 passed the House 62-36, then the Senate made amendments and passed the bill 22-18. The House adopted those amendments 60-39.  SB 161 had no amendments made so it had a clean pass through the Senate 23-16 and House 58-40. HB 145 and SB 161 have been signed into law by Governor Northam. The Department of Education (DoE) is required to craft model policies for local school boards by December 31, 2020. Each school board will then adopt policies consistent with the DoE’s model policies by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Virginia joins 19 states and D.C. in protecting transgender students in public schools. Thank you to Side by Side, He She Ze and We, the Caregiver Advocacy Group, PFLAG groups around the state, and many others who worked tirelessly for this bill.

Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 245 and Delegate Patrick Hope’s HB 386 ban the practice of conversion therapy on minors by licensed professionals. SB 245 passed the Senate 21-18 and the House 62-35. HB 386 passed the House 66-27 and the Senate 22-18. HB 386 has been signed by the governor, while SB 245 is on its way to the governor’s desk. Virginia is now the 20th state to ban conversion therapy on minors. Thank you to the many advocates such as Adam Trimmer, the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia, the Born Perfect campaign, and Love Actually Won as well as countless others.

Update Virginia’s Laws to Reflect Marriage Equality

Companion bills SB 17 and HB 1490 repeal the ban on same-sex marriages and unions in Virginia’s code. Senator Adam Ebbin’s SB 17 passed the Senate 25-13 and through the House 62-38. Delegate Nancy Guy’s HB 1490 passed the House 63-34 and the Senate 28-12. Both bills were signed into law by the governor.

Modernize Identity Documents for Trans Virginians

Senator Scott Surovell’s SB 246 allows Virginians to select a third gender marker option on DMV licenses and IDs. The bill was passed by the Senate 21-18 and the House 57-43. Now, SB 246 is on its way to the governor’s desk. Once signed, Virginia will join 17 states and D.C. in offering a third gender marker option on state IDs. Thank you to the advocates who have worked to allow non-binary Virginians to have an accurate ID reflecting their gender identity.

Senator Jennifer Boysko’s SB 657 and Delegate Marcus Simon’s HB 1041 make it easier to obtain a birth certificate that matches one’s identity. It will do this by eliminating the requirement for a court order or proof of medical procedure in order to update one’s gender marker. It will also allow for a new birth certificate to be issued, rather than an amended one showing old information. SB 657 passed the Senate 24-15, while the House’s passed it 52-45 with substitute. The Senate then adopted the substitute 24-16. HB 1041 passed the House 52-45, then the Senate passed it with a substitute 23-17 which the House adopted 51-45. Both bills are on their way to the governor. Once signed into law, the State Registrar will develop the form for this simplified process by September 1, 2020. Virginia will join 22 other states, Puerto Rico, and D.C. in making this much-needed update.

Last but not least, Delegate Joseph Lindsey’s HB 19 will allow voters to cast a ballot without showing an ID containing a photo. The bill passed the House 57-43, then passed the Senate with a substitute 21-19. The house rejected the substitute 1-94, but the Senate insisted on the substitute 38-0, so the bill went into conference committee to resolve the two chambers’ differences. Ultimately, the bill, as amended in conference committee, was adopted by the House 54-45, and the Senate agreed 20-19. Next, it will move to the governor’s desk. This important update will increase access to the polls for those who have had difficulty accessing a photo ID. This bill is also particularly important to transgender voters, who have sometimes had difficulty casting a ballot due to their appearance not matching the photo on their ID.

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