Laws protecting LGBTQ+ Virginians go in effect July 1

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Earlier in the year, Northam issued a proclamation declaring June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Virginia to “celebrate the state’s LGBTQ+ communities and their fight for inclusion and equality”.

“This Pride Month, we are reminded of the pivotal moments when LGBTQ+ Americans stood up to demand that they be treated with respect and dignity,” said Governor Northam. “As we celebrate long-overdue progress in advancing LGBTQ+ rights in our country and Commonwealth, we must also redouble our efforts to ensure Virginia is inclusive and welcoming to all––no matter who you are, who you love, or how you identify.”

Pride Month in Virginia is a celebration of several historical rulings from the United States Supreme Court that advance LGBTQ+ rights and equality in throughout the country. This includes “decisions that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, and affirmed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on sex in 2020”.

Senate Bill 868, sponsored by Senator Adam Ebbin and signed in April of this year, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit. The legislation also extends important 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.”

“I am grateful to Governor Northam for signing the Virginia Values Act, which represents years of dedicated work by activists, legislators, and progressive members of our business community to ensure full protection for every Virginian under the law,” said Senator Adam Ebbin. “Sadly, during times of crisis like these, discrimination rises, and its effects become more apparent. When jobs are scarce and housing unaffordable, the reality of who you are must be an additional hurdle to putting food on the table or providing shelter for your family. This law provides important new protections.”

Northam also signed legislation banning the controversial practice of “conversion therapy” for minors. The practice is pseudoscientific and tries to change an individual's sexual orientation from using psychological or spiritual interventions. There is no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical institutions warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful.

The Governor also signed new measures that increase protections for transgender students in public schools, give localities greater authority to ban discrimination, expand the definition of a hate crime to include criminal acts based gender identity and sexual orientation, and make it easier for LGBTQ+ individuals to obtain a birth certificate that matches their gender identity. These laws will become effective July 1, 2020.