Gov. McDonnell made headlines last month when he signed Executive Order 6 (2010) that notably did not include sexual orientation in Virginia's workplace anti-discrimination policy. McDonnell said such a move would be the purview of the legislature, so Virginia's legislaters are taking him at his word.
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reported on Monday:
State lawmakers and advocacy groups today pushed for the passage of a bill that would do what Gov. Bob McDonnell will not—include sexual orientation as part of the state’s anti-discrimination policy.
“Discrimination is wrong and we need to say so,“ said Viola Baskerville, the Secretary of Administration under former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. On Kaine’s first day in office, in 2006, he signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the state workforce.
“It’s not the place of the government to discriminate on irrelevant characteristics of employment,“ said Rick Sincere of the Republican Liberty Caucus, one of nearly a dozen groups to voice support of Senate Bill 66.
Saying he was taking McDonnell at his word, Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, submitted the bill codifying the state’s anti-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to any discrimination based on race, age, religion, gender, marital status, pregnant women, and veterans, among others.
The bill passed the full Senate and on Tuesday it comes before the House of Delegates subcommittee on General Laws, where it is likely to face an uphill battle.
Equality Virginia, a gay-rights group, organized Monday’s news conference. Also on hand to support the bill were the Virginia Organizing Project, which supports President Barack Obama’s agenda; the Virginia Governmental Employees Association; the American Association of Retired Persons, and several state lawmakers, including McEachin and Del. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria.
McEachin was asked whether things had changed since McDonnell took office on January 16th because the sexual orientation provision is not in the anti-discrimination policy.
“I think there is an atmosphere that is being created, regrettably brought on by the McDonnell administration,“ he said.