Today HRC and Equality Virginia, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, sounded the alarm on a flood of shameful anti-LGBT bills being pushed by anti-LGBT extremists in the Virginia state legislature. Some three weeks into the 2016 legislative session, at least 10 bills attacking LGBT Virginians and their families are already up for consideration.
“These shameful and far reaching attacks have no place in Virginia in the year 2016. These disgraceful bills bring with them multiple, expensive legal challenges that will damage the state’s reputation,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Virginians everywhere should stand up and demand that their lawmakers stop these expensive and pointless attacks against our basic values of fairness and equality, and it is our sincere hope that the Virginia Legislature will reject these bills.”
“This unprecedented number of anti-LGBT legislation introduced this year is both alarming and appalling,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “These bills seek to isolate and diminish gay and transgender people by giving agencies a license to discriminate, devaluing LGBT couples and families, limiting protections for our youth, and denying transgender individuals basic rights such as using the appropriate restroom or attaining updated government documents. It is now up to Virginians to ensure our elected leaders and laws reflect the inclusive and diverse Virginia we all know and love. This legislative session marks a turning point in the Commonwealth’s history and it will take all of us standing strong together to move equality forward and stop hate in its tracks.”
Among the bills introduced are attempts to undermine marriage equality, proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people, a bill to prevent state universities and public schools from adopting LGBT non-discrimination protections, a bill to prevent transgender Virginians from changing their birth certificates to match their identity, and multiple bills seeking to restrict transgender people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity.
A brand new survey released this week shows that a similar religious refusal bill in Indiana cost the state as much as $60 million in convention revenue alone from lost business. The survey from “Visit Indy”found that “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.”
In a bright spot, the Virginia Senate recently passed two LGBT non-discrimination bills, SB 67 and SB 12. Similar legislation passed the Senate last year but failed to pass the House of Delegates.
The attacks on fairness and equality in Virginia are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking nearly 150 anti-LGBT bills in 30 states. For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/