ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today Senator Adam Ebbin released the following statement regarding the Virginia Values Act, which was officially signed into law ay 10 am, Thursday, July 23, 2020:
“My name is Senator Adam Ebbin and I have the distinction of being the first openly gay member of General Assembly. I am glad our LGBT Caucus is now five-members strong. We’re joined today by Delegates Mark Sickles of Fairfax, Delegate Mark Levine of Alexandria, Delegate Danica Roem of Prince William Delegate Dawn Adams of Richmond.
I’m especially thankful to Delegate Sickles for expertly shepherding this legislation through the House of Delegates and to my co-sponsors Senator Jennifer McClellan for laying the groundwork for nondiscrimination in housing, and Senator Jennifer Boysko for her passionate advocacy.
I’m also grateful to the Virginia Values Coalition, James Parrish, Vee Lamneck & everyone at Equality Virginia; Alphonso David & the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom for All Americans, the National Center for Transgender Equality, as well as our business partners, and communities of faith. Today we owe much to those who blazed the trail to this day, from those at Stonewall to our allies fighting for civil rights for Black Americans, including the late Congressman John Lewis, and Guy Kinman of Richmond.
Today we’re celebrating the passage of the most expansive civil rights bill in Virginia’s history. The Virginia Values Act creates protections in hiring, housing & public accommodations not just for LGBT people but also outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, disability and, status as a veteran in public accommodations.
It is notable that today, in the former capital of the Confederacy and birthplace of Massive Resistance, we are enacting one of the most comprehensive nondiscrimination laws in the nation.
In the 1990s, I first came to Richmond as an advocate. Those legislators and staff who were even willing to speak with us were surprised that anyone was advocating for LGBT people in Virginia. For many sessions after I was elected, we were on the defensive dealing with anti-LGBT bills. In a single session we had to deal with bills against gay marriage; against adoption by gay people; against gay-straight alliances; and even a bill to provide a “traditional marriage” license plate. For years, while a gay couple could be married in VA on a Sunday, they could be fired on a Monday, evicted on Tuesday and denied a hotel room the next night.
Make no mistake, millions of Americans continue to suffer this psychological, physical, and economic vandalism–simply because of who they are or whom they love. But here in the Commonwealth, we’re taking a stand. The Virginia Values Act will not erase all discrimination, but it will arm Virginians with an effective tool to fight back against bigotry. With your signature, Governor, we deliver on the promise of Stonewall.”
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