Four bills that would have perpetuated discrimination against the LGBTQ community in housing and public employment decisions were struck down in the Virginia House of Delegates in February. Advocacy groups say they will not stop pressuring GOP legislators who continue to push for discriminatory bills.
Those groups, Virginia Beach for Fairness and Equality Virginia, held an awareness and advocacy campaign in Neptune Park at the Oceanfront in July.
During that campaign these groups tried to build awareness for how the LGBTQ community is currently discriminated against, with a focus on housing and employment in the public sector. They would like to not only pressure the legislature to change the current laws, but they are also encouraging residents and businesses to do the same.
Their hope is that by the time elections are held in November, lawmakers would have listened to what they had to say. And more importantly, that they will start passing the laws that could greatly help this community.
“Whether or not someone gets a job or is accepted into housing should not have anything to do with their sexual orientation or what gender they identify with, ” says Tom Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm. “It is illogical and shameful that either of those factors would ever be considered — but especially in 2018.”
Historically, marginalized communities have struggled to overcome a variety of barriers to access housing and professional opportunities, though great strides have been made in the past decade.
Robert Roman, a co-owner of a furniture store in Norfolk, pointed to Fortune 500 companies that are intentional in implementing inclusive hiring practices. Due to the fact that they often want to set up their headquarters in states that have anti-discrimination laws, Roman argues that passing such laws in Virginia could have an impact on the entire state and its economy as companies decide where to open new locations.
Lawmakers should consider their obligation to constituents is deeply tied to their stance and protection of anti-discrimination laws and take swift action accordingly.