Equality Beyond Marriage In Virginia

Morgan White
Guest Columnist

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Richmond, Va.-  The ruling by a federal judge on Feb. 13 that declared the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional was only the first in a long line of changes that are needed in order for equality to be accomplished in Virginia for members of the LGBT community.

The hiring or firing of someone based on their sexual preference is completely legal in Virginia. Currently there are three bills that have been introduced to the state senate and House of Delegates which would make the discrimination illegal.

The senate bill 248 for this session was defeated on Jan. 20. In the House of Delegates there were house bills 417 as well as HB 562. Both bills were tabled by the subcommittee they were assigned to. In addition to bills against workplace discrimination for sexual preferences and gender identities, three bills were brought to the floor to expand the definition of discrimination for the fair housing act of Virginia. HB 883, HB 815, and HB 418 were all tabled on Jan. 23.

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Image by Chris Kindred

In addition to discrimination allowed at the workplace and in housing, same sex couples are also troubled when looking to adopt.

“Once Virginia gains marriage equality, all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, will be able to adopt children together,” said Kirsten Bokenkamp, communication director of Equality Virginia. Same-sex couples in Virginia are currently unable to adopt jointly and second parent adoptions are not allowed within the state as well. The amount of discrimination still allowed in the state has caused some members of the community unrest.

“Still in Virginia I have to police my gender, I have to police my sexuality and I work at a progressive company,” said VCU senior Tyler Keylon.

The ruling of the same-sex marriage ban may have been the beginning of a change in the tides of Virginia for LGBT equality. Given the length of time it may take to finally legalize same-sex marriage in Virginia, the entirety of the situation may be an entirely small step however it does help to begin the process sooner than expected.

“I was happy when I heard that the ban had been lifted because marriage provides a variety of legal benefits. However, we are far from equality for members of the LGBTQIA community and marriage is certainly not top priority for me,” said VCU senior Maya White-Luhrie.

 

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