How would you feel if you had to lie every time your co-workers asked you how your weekend was to keep your significant other a secret? What would it be like if you were coming home with your partner but looking over your shoulder the whole time making sure no one sees you?
That’s the reality for many LGBTQ Virginians. One in three transgender Virginians have reported experiencing discrimination in a place of public service, one in five have reported experiencing housing discrimination. It’s time to change that.
Many people think that LGBTQ Virginians are protected from discrimination based on who they love or what they look like, but under current Virginia law, LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, or refused service at a restaurant, shop, or doctor’s office. Twenty states have non-discrimination laws, but Virginia isn’t one of them.
Success and opportunities should be based on your merit and how hard you work. But because the Republican-controlled legislature has refused to pass a bill that would protect members of the LGBTQ community for years, many people have been reduced to second class citizens in their community. They have no security and no options when they’ve been discriminated against.
This year, we have the opportunity to pass the Virginia Values Act, which will modernize existing laws to protect LGBTQ Virginians in employment, housing, access to credit, and public accommodations. It will also create new laws to protect people of color, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and others in employment and public accommodations.
These protections are critical in order to ensure that LGBT+ people are able to fully participate in our communities and go about their daily lives without fear of discrimination.