Virginia Democrats Hold Non-Discrimination Press Conference

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    The press release, from Sen. McEachin’s office, is on the “flip.”

    Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun), Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Delegate David Englin (D-Arlington) and Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) held a press conference on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 to discuss their pending non-discrimination legislation.

    They were joined by Former Captain Anthony Woods, a graduate of West Point and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who was discharged from the military in 2008 because of refusing to hide his sexual orientation. James Parrish, the Executive Director of Equality Virginia and Reverend Robin Gorsline of People of Faith for Equality also attended and spoke.

    This is superb, now if we could just get a few Republicans on board as well. Why would anyone – other than outright homophobes of the “Sideshow Bob” or Dick Black variety – be for discrimination?  

    Legislators and Other Discuss Non-Discrimination Legislation

    Richmond — Senator A. Donald McEachin, Senator Mark Herring, Delegate Adam Ebbin, Delegate David Englin, Delegate Joe Morrissey and Minority Leader Ward Armstrong spoke about legislation pending in the General Assembly about non-discrimination. They were joined by Captain Anthony Woods, a graduate of West Point and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who has served this country valiantly in Iraq, James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, and Reverend Robin Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality and pastor of Metropolitan Community Church.

    Delegate Ebbin, who has been, as Senator McEachin said in introducing him, “a rock for this movement” spoke of his legislation, House Bill 2046. “Our state is behind the voters. It is simply the right thing to do.” He stressed that it is important for all public employees, including teacher and college professors to receive protections, especially in light of the Attorney General’s actions against colleges last spring.

    Senator Herring, who is carrying Senate Bill 1121 with Senator McEachin, explained that their bill would allow local governments to have non-discrimination policies for their employees. “As a former supervisor,” he added, “I know how important it is to be competitive with the private sector and this will make a big difference.”

    Delegate Morrissey explained that his legislation, House Bill 2345 is in opposition to the proposed ban on LGBT citizens serving in the Virginia National Guard. He explained that he is confident that LGBT Virginians have “the strength, the character, the courage and the conviction” to serve us well.

    Delegate Englin mentioned his bill to repeal the Marshall-Newman amendment and said that although it is an uphill battle, he is confident that Virginians want their fellow citizens to be able to live “in dignity” and have civil unions available to them. He also advocated for his anti-bullying bill which would strengthen procedures for school districts to combat bullying. “Sexual orientation and perceived sexual orientation continues to be a problem. The responsibility to fight this bullying is all of ours.”

    Minority Leader Armstrong paraphrased the words of Dr King in saying that “our employees should be judged by their job performance and not anything else.”

    James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, a nonpartisan organization, said that discrimination is not good public policy and that these proposed bills are “not partisan and not extreme.”

    Reverend Gorsline remarked that “As people of faith, we know that a society that denies dignity to a portion of its citizens is a society that is falling short of its potential.”

    Captain Woods said that, as a Virginian, he is here to show support for efforts for equality for all Virginians and that “on the battlefield, sexual orientation doesn’t matter one bit.”

    Senator McEachin concluded the press conference by discussing his three bills, codifying non-discrimination, allowing local governments to set their own non-discrimination policies and providing for health benefits for state employees. Senator McEachin said, “It is time to take this issue off the table. Our children expect this and deserve this. This issue is too important for partisan rhetoric.” He explained that, “This is our opportunity to codify, to write into the Virginia Code these basic human protections for our state employees, to ensure that no state employee shall be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The time is now.”