The 2012 General Assembly Session has begun. Equality Virginia will be focused on supporting legislation that protects our community from discrimination in employment and adoption and opposing legislation that seeks to grant state-funded and state-licensed adoption and foster care agencies associated with religious groups the right to discriminate against us.Register today
for Lobby Day before the January 20 deadline.
Nondiscrimination in Employment
Equality Virginia supports workplace nondiscrimination legislation that is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Virginia has no law protecting any public employee from discrimination on the job. We are one of only 20 states where you can still be fired from a state or local job because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. This reality undercuts the Commonwealth’s ability to recruit the best and the brightest, adversely affects our competitiveness, and, ultimately, holds the potential to undercut the quality of state and local services.
EV believes that passage of state and local workplace nondiscrimination legislation is a small step forward in ensuring that Virginia is truly an inclusive Commonwealth.
Equality Virginia needs you to join us now in active advocacy for SB 263
(Senators Ebbin and McEachin are chief co-patrons), which is now pending in the Senate General Laws Committee. If your Senator is a member of Senate General Laws
, please let him or her know of your support for this bill by phone call, email or letter to the addresses included in the Committee list hotlinks.
Equality Virginia is also tracking workplace nondiscrimination legislation in the House of Delegates, including HB 613, HB 692, HB 694, HB 977 and HB 1099. See our Portfolio on Richmond Sunlight
for more information on these bills.Nondiscrimination in Adoption
EV believes that the only factor that should control adoption and foster care placements is the best interests of the child, and this should be an individualized assessment considering all relevant factors.
No prospective parent or child in the system should be refused services on the basis any one factor. Unless the law is changed, however, state-licensed and state-funded adoption and foster care agencies will continue to deny services to children and to prospective parents based on their sexual orientation or other discriminatory factors, compounding the difficulties in finding loving, permanent homes for the thousands of children in foster care and awaiting adoption.
That is why Equality Virginia will be actively supporting legislation that bans discrimination by state-licensed and state-funded adoption and foster care agencies. This legislation, which will be introduced in the next few days, will require your active support to pass.
It is also why Equality Virginia actively and strongly opposes so-called "conscience clause" legislation that will specifically authorize the more than forty child-placing agencies licensed and funded by the state that are affiliated with religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity in making their services available.
While EV respects the right of individuals to practice their faith without government interference, the child-placing agencies licensed to facilitate adoptions and foster care are functioning as agencies of the state. As agents of the state, when placing children, they are not engaged in private acts (as would be the case with respect to employment decisions). Just as the state cannot deny any citizen the equal protection of the laws, neither can the agents of the state, i.e., the licensed child placing agencies, even if they are run by faith-based organizations.
Please act now to let your Delegate and Senator know that you oppose HB 189 (Gilbert)
and SB 349 (McWaters)
. This is especially important if your Delegate is on the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions or the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services.
We must defeat the conscience clause legislation, and we cannot do it without your help. The Family Foundation has hired four new lobbyists for the Session to help get this legislation passed. You are the key to making their efforts unsuccessful! Please join us for Lobby Day on January 24 and help us pass laws that will change lives in positive ways and defeat legislation that offends our dignity and denies us basic equal protection before the law.