Saturday, March 26, 2016

Virginia Equality Bar Association 2016 Spring Symposium

Yours truly with Jim Obergefell
Posting was minimal today since I attended the Virginia Equality Bar Association 2016 Spring Symposium in Richmond at the offices of mega firm, Williams Mullen.  It was a great and informative event that included continuing legal education ("CLE") credits and the chance to meet Jim Obergefell (pictured with me above), lead plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the equality marriage case before the Supreme Court that brought marriage equality nationwide, and Paul Smith counsel before the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down the remaining sodomy statues, including Virginia's animus motivated statute. 

While Virginia still has no anti-discrimination statutes that protect LGBT Virginians, the positive news covered on the employment discrimination front is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has now ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers BOTH transgender and gay and lesbian employees and that recourse can be sought through the EEOC which can open the doorway for civil litigation against anti-LGBT employers.  I suspect that many Virginia employers do not realize that they are playing with fire when they discriminate against, allow the harassment of, or fire and LGBT employee. While a lengthy process, a few cases against the right employers could prompt a sea change in the mindset of anti-gay bigots who either own or are in the management of businesses.

Over lunch, there was a panel discussion of the issue of LGBT rights and the myth of Christian persecution that lies behind the push for "religious freedom" laws that are in reality nothing more than attempts to grant a special license to discriminate to right wing Christofascists.  Other than the roughly 3 hours in the car to Richmond and back, it was a 100% enjoyable event.

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