2014 General Assembly LGBT Equality Snapshot
Equality Virginia monitored more than 20 bills pertaining to the LGBT community during the 2014 General Assembly session. As session kicked off in January, the Senate was not yet fully seated, and many committees were short a person. As a result, many of the bills followed by EV did not make it out of committee, making it impossible for EV to score all legislators on the issues that are important to LGBT Virginians.
Instead of publishing an intensive legislative scorecard as we did in 2012 and 2013, this snapshot provides some information on our priority bills, and highlights a few of our friends and foes during the 2014 General Assembly session.
Two of our largest priorities for 2014 were the second-parent adoption bills and the workplace non-discrimination bills. For a full list of bills, sponsors, co-sponsors, and a record of how your legislators voted, if they had the opportunity, see our 2014 General Assembly Overview.
SECOND PARENT ADOPTION
Before Virginia gained marriage equality, second-parent adoption was the only way allow same-sex couples raising children in Virginia to both become legal parents to the children they are raising. Through second-parent adoption, these children would be afforded the security and stability of having two legal parents. Even with marriage equality, the best way to protect our children is though second-parent adoption.
Senator Janet Howell (D-32) and Delegate Joseph Yost (R-12) were the bi-partisan sponsors of this bill. Both Senator Howell and Delegate Yost passionately urged their respective committee members to vote to pass this bill because it protects Virginia’s children from undue harm.
Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-71) stood up for equality – and Virginia’s children being raised by same-sex couples – when in a subcommittee meeting on second-parent adoption, she eloquently and passionately spoke about her experiences growing up and explained from a personal perspective why Virginia must do right by our children and support second-parent adoption.
Spotlight – Where does Senator Norment stand?
As the second-parent adoption bill was being voted on in the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, committee member Senator Thomas Norment (R-3) was nowhere to be seen. If Senator Norment had been present to vote, or had issued a proxy vote to pass the bill from committee, this bill would have very likely passed the whole Senate and moved over to the House of Delegates. Despite several attempts to contact Senator Norment, Equality Virginia still does not know where he stands when it comes to second-parent adoption.
With the Senate Committee on General Laws not yet fully seated, the workplace non-discrimination bill – that passed the whole Senate with bi-partisan support in 2013 – did not make it out of the committee in 2014. At the same time, the House of Delegates continued to stonewall this bill, which also failed to pass out of the House committee even though it received bi-partisan support.
Seeking workplace fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians is increasingly a bi-partisan effort. Delegate Ron Villanueva (R-21) sponsored this bill in the House of Delegates [with Delegate Mark Keam (D-35) as chief co-patron], as did Delegate Marcus Simon (D-53). In the Senate, long-time advocates for equality Senator Donald McEachin (D-9) and Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30) led the charge. See more about workplace non-discrimination.
In the committee hearing on the workplace non-discrimination bills, Delegate Chris Peace (R-97), announced that he has signed Equality Virginia’s non-discrimination statement, and urged his colleagues to do the same. However, even after making that statement, Delegate Peace voted not to pass the bill out of committee.
Foes of Equality
Senator Walter Stosch and Senator Bryce Reeves are no friends to LGBT equality. During the 2014 General Assembly session, they both stood against LGBT equality whenever they had a chance. They voted against workplace fairness, against second-parent adoption, and against expanding insurance. While the world around them changes, they – and a number of others in the backwards looking House of Delegates – continue to refuse to move to the right side of history.
For a list and voting record of all the bills followed by Equality Virginia during the 2014 General Assembly session, see our 2014 General Assembly Overview.