This story is part of “Count on Democrats to give Virginians what’s needed: Unity”
As we ring in the new decade, we Virginians have another reason to celebrate: the newly won Democratic leadership of the General Assembly. This year, unlike the past 26, Democrats will be in control of the General Assembly and the Governorship. This past November, Democratic candidates embracing progressive changes won majorities in both houses of the legislature. That is good news for everyone, but especially members of the LGBT community.
For the past 26 years, Virginians have been stuck with Republican leadership that would kill common sense legislation in subcommittees. Republicans held up proposed legislation like non-discrimination in housing, bail bond reform, protecting pre-existing conditions and gun safety measures, among many others. This stubborn approach to governing finally led to a day of reckoning for the Republicans on November 5, 2019.
Democrats in the General Assembly, with leadership from Sen. Adam Ebbin and the four openly LGBT Delegates, have placed equality legislation as a priority in their legislative agenda. With the new Democratic majorities, there is support to pass anti-discrimination statutes that will outlaw the discrimination of LGBT people in housing, public accommodation, and public and private employment.
This is a huge victory for the LGBT community. No more getting married on Saturday and getting fired on Monday. No more rejecting a tenant because they present as a man one day and a woman a month later. Members of the community will no longer need to be afraid to show their true selves and they can’t be refused service because of how they identify.
I know this may not seem like a lot to some reading this, but for the LGBT community, it is the first time in over 400 years that our Commonwealth has told us it is OK to be gay in Virginia.
Democrats also will put an end to the legalized torture of children and young adults that is so-called “Conversion Therapy.” Currently, conversion therapy is prevented by state boards but Democrats will be putting the ban into law. Additionally, there will be a push to remove all antiquated language from Virginia code that infers or is explicitly biased against the LGBT community. The next step after that will be repealing the Marshall-Newman amendment to Virginia’s Constitution that banned same-sex marriage, passed in 2006.
These new laws don’t just help the LGBT community, they help all Virginians by making our Commonwealth more equal. It sends a message that Virginia is open for business, to all businesses, which makes us more attractive for them to locate here. In addition to the new equality legislation, Democrats will work to make substantive improvements to mental health, gun safety, criminal justice reform, education, affordable healthcare, and pass the Equal Rights Amendment; all of which have been stalled for years.
As we start this new decade, Virginia will become a more open and welcoming place to live, work and love. That is truly worth celebrating.