Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Sweeping LGBT Rights Legislation to be Introduced in Virginia General Assembly

Virginia Del.-Elect Mark Levine (D-Alexandria)
The Virginia General Assembly convenes later this month and once again the rights and lives of LGBT Virginians will be the targets of the gay haters in the Virginia Republican Party whose efforts at self-prostitution to Christofascists make a tawdry whore look principled.  On the other side of the political aisle, Democrats will be introducing bills that seek to give LGBT Virginians the non-discrimination protections taken for granted by other Virginians.  One Democrat introducing such legislation is  Del.-Elect Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) - who is openly gay - who will introduce bills calling for prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.  The Washington Blade looks at Levine and his legislative proposals.  Here are excerpts:

Gay Virginia Del.-Elect Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) says he plans to introduce legislation during the week he takes office on Jan. 13 calling for prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

Levine won election in November to the Virginia House of Delegates 45th District, which includes the city of Alexandria and parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties.

He said he’s in the final stage of drafting his LGBT rights legislation and will soon decide whether the non-discrimination protections covering employment, housing and public accommodations should be combined in one bill or divided into two separate bills.

Under current Virginia law it’s legal for private employers to fire or refuse to hire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It’s also legal for landlords to evict or refuse to rent an apartment to someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and for a restaurant or other business to refuse service to people because they’re LGBT.

Levine told the Washington Blade in a Jan. 2 interview that he understands it’s not likely that his legislation – along with as many as 19 other progressive-oriented bills he plans to introduce — will pass this year under Virginia’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Senate.

“Maybe they all won’t pass,” he said. “But what I’m trying to do is set the standard to say what I stand for and what my community stands for. And I’m more than willing to work with anyone on any of these bills to do some tweaking to get more support.”

Pointing to how same-sex marriage was thought to be unattainable in most parts of the country up until last year, Levine said introducing a more ambitious LGBT rights bill in Virginia will lay the groundwork for its eventual passage.

Virginia State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who became the first openly gay member of the Virginia Legislature in 2004, said he would consider introducing a companion version of Levine’s bill in the Senate.
Levine said he planned to release details of his LGBT rights legislation along with the other bills he plans to introduce at a town hall meeting Tuesday night, Jan. 5, at the Alexandria Democratic Party headquarters at 618 N. Washington St. between 7-8:30 p.m.
Once again, Levine underscores the fact that elections matter and that the LGBT community and its allies MUST get out and vote in every election.  

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