The General Assembly went into high gear late last week and especially today, with sub- and full committee votes coming fast and furious, while some bills have already been funneled to the floors of the two chambers. Adding to the whirlwind today were several advocacy groups, such as Second Amendment supporters (and opponents) and Tea Party activists who took advantage of the state and federal holiday to hold their lobby days. While things started off a bit slow, in deference to the "long session" — where there is more time to file and consider legislation, as well as for the inauguration — lawmakers now are digging into the nearly 2,400 bills they have introduced. Today, committees acted on several bills that The Family Foundation either supports or opposes. In a House of Delegates Courts of Justice sub-committee this afternoon, legislation that would have repealed the law that prohibits civil unions in Virginia was defeated. While the legislation would not have affected the state constitution's prohibition on same-sex marriages or civil unions, its passage would have sent a message to the courts that the Virginia General Assembly no longer supports a policy it once passed. The bill failed on a 6-4 vote.
On the other side of the General Assembly Building, a Senate committee failed to report a bill that would have added sexual behavior to the state's so-called "non-discrimination" policy. The bill was defeated on a 7-7 vote. Oddly, the patron brought the bill to the committee while it is missing one Democrat (while two seats remain unfilled because of undetermined special elections) instead of waiting for the outcome of the special elections. Perhaps we haven't seen the last of this issue in the Senate this year?
Bills, committee meetings, votes and rallies aren't the only action in Capitol Square during session. Another homosexual lobby news conference was held to promote legislation that would restrict duly licensed counselors in Virginia from working with children under 18 who want to leave or whose parents want them to leave homosexuality. Similar to laws in New Jersey and California, this bill would blatantly violate the rights of counselors, parents and children to choose to give or to seek counseling when a child is struggling with their sexuality. As we told the media, it's astonishing that the party that claims to champion choice and free speech would so blatantly violate both with this bill.
This week alone, The Family Foundation team will be working on dozens of bills that will be debated and voted on in subcommittee and committee. Please watch for our "Action Alerts" this week and do act on them to influence your elected officials here in Richmond.