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Virginia House Subcommittee Kills Nondiscrimination Bill

Proposed law was aimed at protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees.

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee this week tabled a bill that would have prevented the state government from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation, essentially killing the matter for this legislative session.

"What it means is that it's still perfectly legal to fire somebody because of their sexual orientation," state Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, told Patch. Ebbin and Sen. Don McEachin, a Richmond Democrat, were the primary sponsors of the bill, which passed the Senate late last month 24-16.

Most of Virginia's top 25 employers have nondiscrimination policies in place that include sexual orientation, according to Ebbin's office.

In 2005, then-Gov. Mark Warner issued an executive order that protected state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then-Gov. Tim Kaine subsequently reissued that order, though sitting Gov. Bob McDonnell did not.

Ebbin's bill was an attempt to write into law the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state government employees from workplace discrimination.

On Tuesday, an eight-member House General Laws subcommittee voted to table the matter. The subcommittee, which consists of six Republicans and two Democrats, did so on a voice vote — which means no official record was kept of how each member voted.

"It's disappointing that we've got Republicans in the House of Delegates who won't join the 21st century and pass simple nondiscrimination protections for state employees," said Ebbin, whose Senate district includes part of Arlington. "We've got members of that subcommittee who are looking for a reason to oppose the bill. And that's disheartening."

Ebbin first sponsored legislation to protect LGBT state employees in 2007 as a state delegate. He has done so every year since — and Wednesday he indicated that he will continue the fight next year.

"We will win," Ebbin said. "It may take a while. But this bill will be put in again and again. And it will pass."

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