Virginia Senate Passes Controversial Discrimination Bill

general-assemblyOn Monday the Virginia Senate passed SB 66, a bill that would prohibit discrimination against state employees including, for the first time, discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation. Advocates have hailed this legislation as a giant step towards aligning Virginia’s employment laws with private sector practices.   Opponents say the measure is unnecessary and that current legislation provides adequate protections.

The bill passed the the Senate with a vote of 23-Y 17-N largely along party lines. The twenty-three Senators voting for the bill included:
Barker, Colgan, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Quayle, Reynolds, Saslaw, Ticer, Whipple.
The seventeen Senators voting against the bill were:
Blevins, Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, McWaters, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Ruff, Smith, Stosch, Stuart, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins.

The full list of provisions in the bill prohibit discrimination in public employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran covered by the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

The bill is expected to face stiff opposition in the House of Delegates.

The full text of the bill is available here.