RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -When the General Assembly convenes, a years-long push to protect the LGBT community in the Commonwealth will continue.
Monday, Equality Virginia teamed up with Attorney General Mark Herring, Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegates Ken Plum, Rip Sullivan, Marcus Simon, Marcia Price, Debra Rodman, Kay Kory , Vivian Watts, Mark Levine, and Schuyler VanValkenburg to further explain bills filed to ensure protections against discrimination for the LGBT community.
The bills range in offering protections in health care to redefining hate crimes in Virginia, by adding gender and sexual orientation to the definition. Out of several bills to be filed, Equality Virginia says they are heavily focused on passing two bills centered on employment and fair housing discrimination.
“Most people support protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing and public employment but they already think it’s the law, so it’s hard to get people excited or interested in these bills sometimes because they think LGBT people are protected and they’re not," said James Parrish with Equality VA.
Parrish says they have supported and watched the community as they deal with being denied jobs and housing due to the sexual orientation, because there are no laws specifically protecting them from it. For years, the bills have gotten approval in the Senate, but Parrish says they are now hoping a special committee with have a fair vote for them to become law.
“There was a large lack of protections in the state of Virginia, but we do believe the support is there to pass this housing bill and public employment bill. As we said, [we want to be] the first in the south protections for LGBT people.” said Parrish. "We hope to open the door to other states, there are a lot of people who face discrimination on a daily basis.”
Wednesday at 10 a.m., Equality Virginia will host supporters at the Statehouse to kick off 2019 legislative session and build momentum for passing key nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Virginians. They organization will also meet with legislators to share their personal stories about why nondiscrimination protections are urgently needed.