Virginia’s Senate has passed a bill prohibiting state government from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The bill, known as SB 701, passed in the state’s Senate with a 24-16 vote yesterday (25 January).
The move was applauded by Equality Virginia’s executive director James Parrish who said: ‘We are pleased that four Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in passing SB 701 to protect LGBT state employees’.
Gay state Senator Adam Ebbin (Democrats), who co-sponsored the bill said: ‘We’re going to press forward with this momentum.
‘No state employee should ever doubt Virginia’s commitment to equal opportunity employment for all. This assures state employees that they will be judged solely on their merits and that discrimination has no place in Virginia’.
The proposal has won Senate approval in previous years but has never made it through the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
In order to become law, SB 710 must pass a vote in the Republican controlled House of Delegates.
Parrish previously told the US Blade gay magazine that its chances of passing in the chamber this year remain ‘very slim’.
Despite Virginia having no statewide discrimination protection, there are some counties and cities in Northern Virginia that have local non-discrimination ordinance.
Loudoun County has both sexual orientation and gender identity protected in employment.
The counties of Arlington and Fairfax and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church have sexual orientation but not gender identity protected in employment.