RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia lawmakers have given final passage to a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill intended to protect LGBTQ people.
Advocates say the legislation will make the state the first in the South to enact such protections.
The legislation that cleared the Senate in a final vote Wednesday prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public or private employment, public spaces and credit transactions.
It also lays out causes of action that would allow individuals to sue over alleged discrimination.
“This legislation will have a transformative and positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ Virginians,” said Vee Lamneck, Equality Virginia, Executive Director. “This new law sends a strong message that Virginia is welcoming to all, including LGBTQ individuals and families.”
Opponents have raised religious liberty concerns about the measure.
In a 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," said Victoria Cobb.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has said he supports the bill and is expected to sign it.