RICHMOND, Va. (WVVA) – Today State Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) introduced the Virginia Values Act, SB 868, a new bill that would modernize Virginia's existing human rights laws and provide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in public employment and housing.
The bill would also create new nondiscrimination protections in private employment and public accommodations for all Virginians.
Virginia is home to 257,400 LGBTQ adults.
Under current Virginia law, LGBTQ people are not explicitly protected from discrimination, meaning they are at risk of being fired, evicted or denied service in restaurants or stores.
Virginia is one of only five states without protections in public accommodations for any protected class.
The bill has broad support among lawmakers. Governor Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw have all pledged that passing comprehensive protections for LGBTQ Virginians in employment, housing and public spaces is a top priority in 2020.
The Virginia Values Act will update existing laws that prohibit discrimination in housing, access to credit, and public employment to include LGBTQ people.
The bill will also create new protections in private employment and public accommodations for all Virginians on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, disability, and status as a veteran.
The bill requires private employers with six or more employees to comply with the new protections.
In addition, all state government employees and school board employees will be covered under the law.
It will also update Virginia's Fair Housing Act to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
Public accommodations refer to any place that a member of the general public could expect to receive goods and services including restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, hospitals, schools and government buildings.
A similar bill is being considered in West Virginia.
Stay with WVVA for updates.