The past 24 hours have been good for Virginia’s homosexual lobby, at least in the Virginia Senate, where two key legislative initiatives passed. But there also is positive news for values voters in the House of Delegates. Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 66, legislation that would add sexual orientation (and "gender identity or expression") to the state’s non-discrimination in hiring laws (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Despite no evidence being presented anywhere in the process that discrimination is taking place, the bill passed 23-17, with one Republican, Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), joining all 22 Senate Democrats who favored the measure.
Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) argued against the bill during the floor debate, adding the fact that should this bill become law, the Commonwealth would open itself up for extensive litigation by those who claim they have been discriminated against regardless of their job qualifications.
Today, SB 451, legislation that would allow local governments to offer domestic partner benefits, and patroned by Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), passed the Senate 26-14. This took place despite the fact that this legislation could have a significant fiscal impact on the Commonwealth through increased Standards of Quality funding. Republican Senators Quayle, John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), and floor leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) joined the 22 Democrats.
These bills still must be vetted in and voted on in the House. We encourage you to contact your delegates to defeat these unnecessary bills. If you do, we are quite hopeful that these bills will not find equal favor there.
In fact, earlier this evening, a House General Laws Sub-committee defeated HB 1116, mirror legislation to SB 66. It was patroned by Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49, Arlington). The vote was 5-3 with Delegates John Cosgrove (R-78, Chesapeake), Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax), Ed Scott (R-30, Culpepper), Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), and Rich Anderson (R-51, Woodbridge) voted against the bill. This indicates that SB 66 has little hope for success in the House.