Last week the Senate General Laws committee passed (see vote) legislation, SB 66, that will add sexual orientation to the state’s hiring policy of non-discrimination. If this bill is successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class. The full Senate will vote (see contact list) on this legislation tomorrow! We urge you to ask your senator to vote against this unnecessary legislation.
While no one endorses discrimination of any type, there is absolutely no need for this proposal. In fact, according to the Washington Post, there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government. Both previous governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, signed executive orders against discrimination, and Governor Bob McDonnell has said publicly that his administration will not discriminate against homosexuals (see Washington Post). No evidence of discrimination was presented in committee when the bill was debated.
This is a solution in search of a problem. In addition, this legislation will open the Commonwealth of Virginia to costly litigation by people who fail to qualify for employment but sue the state based on this proposal. It also is a first step toward adding sexual orientation to private business hiring practice. We have seen in other states this gradual progression.
The bill also is impractical. To protect themselves against litigation, state agencies would have to begin asking job applicants about their sexuality, a clear invasion of privacy. State employment applications would have to be changed to include boxes to check for one’s sexual orientation, "actual or perceived," gender identity or expression.
Elevating sexual orientation to a protected class, despite the fact that homosexuality is not immutable, would create an entirely new level of protection — protection based on one’s sexual behavior. So, please contact your senator now and urge him or her to vote no on SB 66 — unnecessary legislation that elevates sexual orientation to protected status in Virginia law.