Saturday, February 06, 2016

Virginia House Republicans Effectively Kills Pro-Gay Bills

Once again gay friendly bills that would have protected LGBT Virginians have been effectively killed by Republicans in the House of Delegates.  Thus, gays can marry on Saturday and be fired on Monday because of their sexual orientation - a situation that no doubt warms the ice cold heart of Victoria Cobb and her fellow hate merchants at The Family Foundation, one of the foulest organizations in Virginia.  The only good news is that the same committee tabled anti-gay bills as well, apparently seeking to shield House Republicans from having to take a recorded vote that could come back to haunt them in 2017.  The irony is that a vast majority of Virginians support non-discrimination protections for LGBT Virginians - many don't realize they do not exist in Virginia - as do Virginia's leading businesses.  But sadly, the power of the Christofascists in the Virginia GOP has not been broken and hate, bigotry and the embrace of ignorance remain the hallmarks of the party.  Metro Weekly looks at the wrongs done to LGBT Virginians yesterday.  Here are highlights (when is the media going to stop using the euphemism "social conservatives" and call these people out for what they are, the Christian Taliban?):
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted 5-2, along party lines, to table a number of LGBT-related bills this week, shuffling them off to the Code Commission for further review and analysis.

The move, which was done for eight bills, regardless of whether they espoused a pro-equality or anti-equality viewpoint, allows lawmakers in the Republican-dominated House to avoid taking a firm position on LGBT issues for the rest of the 2016 session. 

Voting to table the bills and send them on to the Code Commission also allows Republican lawmakers to placate social conservatives who demand that all Republicans adhere to anti-gay orthodoxy while also giving them political cover by avoiding an on-the-record vote that could prove unpopular with a general electorate or a majority of their constituents. Polls have consistently shown that super-majorities of Virginians support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. 

Among the bills that were sent to the Code Commission and are not likely to be brought up for the remainder of this year’s legislative session were six bills granting protections in public employment, private employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as a measure that would have banned the practice of LGBT conversion therapy on minors.

From the anti-gay side, the subcommittee also referred to the Code Commission two bills submitted by Delegates Bob Marshall (R-Manassas, Manassas Park, Sudley, Bull Run) and Dave LaRock (R-Hamilton, Lovettsville, Berryville) that attempt to define gender in terms of biological sex only. Marshall’s bill seeks to nullify any pro-LGBT federal policies, rules or regulations dealing with discrimination that were either passed or came into effect after Jan. 1, 2012. LaRock’s bill seeks to prohibit the commonwealth or any subdivisions from adopting policies that treat gender identity discrimination as sex discrimination, regardless of any federal ruling on the issue.

These delegates refuse to acknowledge what the majority of Virginia has long believed: protecting LGBT Virginians is not only the right thing to do, but it’s what is best for the overall success of the commonwealth.

“Our hope now is the broad Republican support in the Senate will provide the bipartisan support needed to properly and accurately represent Virginia’s people and the Code Commission will take these issues into serious consideration in the upcoming year,” added Parrish.

The House subcommittee also approved two other bills from Marshall and Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg, Hartwood, Remington), respectively, putting them up for consideration by the full committee, and, later, potentially the full House.

Marshall’s approved bill seeks to circumvent and overturn several school board policies — such as ones that passed this past year in Fairfax and Arlington counties — that prohibit discrimination against LGBT students, staff, teachers or other employees. Marshall’s bill would explicitly bind the hands of school boards from passing any such policy unless the General Assembly had passed a similar policy. 

Cole’s bill, meanwhile, directly targets transgender restroom use in public facilities in any government building or school in the commonwealth. Under the bill, transgender people would only be allowed to use the restroom consistent with their biological sex. The bill would also make it harder for schools to provide alternatives to restrooms or changing facilities for transgender students. Cole’s bill received much criticism, particularly in its initial form, which was interpreted as potentially requiring teachers and administrators to check students’ genitals before allowing them to use the bathroom.

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