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Northam signs Virginia Values Act for 'inclusive Commonwealth'

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 18:38:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralph Northam has signed the Virginia Values Act, a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill intended to protect LGBTQ people.

Northam said the legislation will make the state the first in the South to enact such protections.

“This legislation sends a strong, clear message—Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family,” Northam said. “We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly. No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.”

Senate Bill 868, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public or private employment, public spaces and credit transactions.

Additionally, officials said the legislation extends protections to Virginians on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability and status as a veteran.

It also lays out causes of action that would allow individuals to sue over alleged discrimination.

“We have made discrimination against our gay, lesbian and transgender friends, family, neighbors and co-workers in employment, housing and public accommodation illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia," Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn said. “It is now the law of the land that every Virginian can work hard, earn a living wage, and live their lives without fear of discrimination based on who they are or who they love. A tremendous victory.”

Opponents have raised religious liberty concerns about the measure.

In a previous statement, the Family Foundation said they are “extremely disappointed” in the passage.

“In his dissent to the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision inventing a right to marriage, Justice Alito warned that some would use that decision to 'stamp out every vestige of dissent.' The Virginia General Assembly today passed legislation that empowers the Attorney General to do just that. The Family Foundation is already preparing to defend religious Virginians who are attacked for their faith," Victoria Cobb previously said after lawmakers passed the bill in late February.