(With just FOUR DAYS left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’re running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
I grew up in California, and moved to Virginia in 2000. Sometimes, I still forget how much more progressive California is, and that Virginia is still decades behind on some issues. So when I first saw the LGBTQ housing and employment non-discrimination bills a couple years ago, I was completely dumbfounded. Isn’t that already a law?? Sexual orientation has been a protected class in California since 1992! And in 2003 gender identity and expression was added. But here we are in 2019 in Virginia, and not only do we continue to allow such discrimination, the cowardly Republicans in the House of Delegates won’t even let a vote on it take place.
Bills to ban discrimination in housing and public employment in Virginia passed out of the Senate this year, with bipartisan support, and with little or no discussion. But over in the House, Speaker Cox (R-66) first let similar House bills (and later the crossed-over Senate bills) languish in his Rules Committee, and then referred them to the General Laws Committee, chaired by Delegate Chris Peace (R-97), where they… sat. The committee met, considered a number of other bills, but left bills to ban public employers and landlords from discriminating against LGBTQ persons sitting on the table without a discussion, without a vote.
Do you know why the Virginia GOP that controls the legislature sometimes prevents bills from being voted on? They do it when they don’t want the voters to see them taking unpopular votes. Votes they know go against issues that the majority of Virginians—even a majority of Republicans in Virginia—support. 70% of the population supports explicitly writing in protections for LGBTQ persons from discrimination into law. That includes 55% of Virginia Republicans who think it should be illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ persons in housing, and 59% who think it should be illegal in public employment.
Don’t forget, Virginia is only a few years removed from its “bathroom bill” that would have discriminated against transgender people by letting the government tell people which bathroom they were permitted use, and requiring school principals to notify parents if a student wanted to be called by particular pronouns or use a different bathroom. And while in one of the greatest political ironies of all time, the patron of that bill was ousted from office by Danica Roem (D-13), a transgender woman, co-patrons Dave LaRock (R-33), Nick Freitas (R-30), Mark Cole (R-88), and Matt Fariss (R-59) continue to serve.
We’ve tried working across the aisle to produce bipartisan results on issues that Virginians agree on, regardless of party affiliation. But the Virginia GOP isn’t interested in that. So now it’s time to vote them out of office. These popular policy choices are within our reach, if we work to elect a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate on November 5th.