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Posted at 1:39 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Senate approves protections for gay workers; House remains opposed

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

The Virginia Senate had adopted a bill to legally prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in the state workforce on a tight 22 to 18, party-line vote.

The vote nearly mirrored the outcome when the state Senate voted on the same bill last year. It's death in the GOP-led House of Delegates is a near inevitably; a House subcommittee killed the same proposal Tuesday.

Democrats have rallied around the proposal, in part because it is designed to contest a move by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) last year to urge state colleges to remove language dealing with sexual orientation to their campus nondiscrimination policies last year. Cuccinelli said such language is not legal in Virginia, in the absence of a law passed by the General Assembly protecting gay workers.

"As you will recall, last year we had our children come up in support of this bill -- they marched up from Virginia Commonwealth University," said bill sponsor Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond) to his Senate colleagues Wednesday, referring to a protest march by college students held last year in response to Cuccinelli's action. "It was a very moving moment in the life of this bill. Surely we will be on the right side of history if we pass this legislation."

But Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) enacted an executive directive last year in response to Cuccinelli's letter to colleges, declaring that discrimination, including based on sexual orientation, violates state policy. He said an employee that discriminates could face disciplinary action. But critics noted that the directive held no legal weight and would not allow gay employees access to the court system.

None of those opposed rose to speak against it on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | February 2, 2011; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Good for the Senate.

Lets see if the House has any courage to do what's right.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 2, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

they are still fighting the civil war down there; I did think they had found someone else to hate - the gays

but I was wrong - given the invectives against Pr. Obama, its obvious that they simply added the gays to their hate list

Posted by: n6621j | February 2, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

they are still fighting the civil war down there; I did think they had found someone else to hate - the gays

but I was wrong - given the invectives against Pr. Obama, its obvious that they simply added the gays to their hate list

Posted by: n6621j | February 2, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the VA House is the lap dog of Kooch. He actually said (back when he wrote that letter to the colleges) that he didn't see a need to include gays in the Non-descrimination laws because "he just didn't see that many cases coming up in the courts". Of course he didn't. With out the protection in the law, who in their right mind would take up a big expensive law suit against a company (with much deeper pockets) when they knew had no legal standing. Its not that instances of that specific descrimination didn't happen, just the law showed them the state didn't care. Nice twist of words there Kooch.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | February 3, 2011 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Virginia - Land of the Free and Home of the Brave... Freedom for ....only a few.... and only if you are straight! The regressive haters, who need to scapegoat someone to detract from their own inability to govern will soon be gone.
A new generation will take the moral high ground that is progressive and will endorse equal rights for all citizens.

Posted by: 10bestfan | February 3, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Conservatives are fond of touting their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution (wink, wink).

So what is it about the 14th amendments's equal protection clause that they do not understand, or that they do not agree with?

And where is the VIrginia Tea Party on this issue? They're fond of waving the flag and using the word "freedom" and citing the Constitution.

They promised they'd be watching legislators in Congress and in the states.

So why are they so silent on a Constitutional matter like this?

Don't we all really know?

And isn't the answer spelled H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?

Posted by: DrDemocracy | February 3, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

GOP: Whatever it is, I'm against it.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 3, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

It does not really matter what the law is in this state racism will prevail. I have been in Virginia since 2001 and started appyling for job in 2000, I have an advanced degree and significant experience, but I have only been hired by a single African American firm for a full-time position in the past 10 years and was laid off, so except for a few extremely low paying temporary jobs, I have been unemployed and discrminated against during this time and I am not even gay. So good luck anyone trying to get a job in this state who is of any specific minority. It remains the "Capitol of the Confederacy" with the same history only its 2011. This is the worst place for minority job opportunities I have ever lived and I have been working for almost 40 years now. The law hasn't and won't make a bit of difference in getting hired here, folks, unless you want a menial, unskilled job.

Posted by: hotezzy | February 3, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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