Foreward: Governor Ralph Northam

By, Governor Ralph Northam

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Thank you to Q Virginia for all the great work you do, promoting equality and sharing the stories of Virginia’s LGBT community.

In June, we recognize Pride month in the Commonwealth and across the United States. We have the opportunity to celebrate our progress over the past year, as well as sit back and take stock of what we've yet to accomplish.

Virginia has come a long way in two short years under Governor McAuliffe, and I'm proud to serve in his administration.

His very first executive order banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in state government. When the General Assembly attempted to make the executive order into law, it came down to a tie vote in the Senate. Casting the tie-breaking vote to pass the bill remains one of my proudest moments as Lieutenant Governor.

Thanks in large part to Attorney General Herring’s leadership and the courage of a few extraordinary Virginians, we now have full marriage equality in Virginia and across this great nation.

Furthermore, loving same-sex couples can now legally adopt children of their own, which is another important step toward equality. 

However, you don’t need me to tell you that we still have a long way to go in order to achieve true LGBT equality.

I was thrilled when Governor McAuliffe vetoed SB41, which if passed would have dragged us backwards toward darker times in Virginia’s history.

SB41 would have made it legal to discriminate against thousands of Virginians, which not only sends a message to our LGBT residents that they are second class citizens, but also sends the wrong message to businesses who want to put down roots and grow in inclusive communities.  Virginia's employers need to recruit the best and the brightest workers in the country, and discriminatory laws prevent them from attracting top talent to the Commonwealth.

As a member of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tourism Authority, I work every day to make the Commonwealth business-friendly and welcoming to all.

Sometimes, it is the economic impact of discrimination that ultimately turns the tide. Discriminating against LGBT individuals in Virginia can only have a negative impact on our economy and ultimately on the quality of life of all our citizens.

North Carolina is a prime example. Governor Pat McCrory recently signed into law one of the most anti-LGBT laws in the country. The negative response was immediate, with more than 90 major employers calling for the bill’s repeal, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that the law violates the Civil Rights Act.

Last year, Indiana approved similar legislation that put the state in the national spotlight and cost the city of Indianapolis an estimated $60 million in tourism.

This goes to show what a staggering difference a Governor can make in a state. I am grateful to have had Governor McAuliffe at the helm these past two years and to be included on his cabinet. Together, we will continue to fight for equality for the LGBT community here in Virginia.

In my role as lieutenant governor and working with Governor McAuliffe, my priority is to create an environment that best serves all Virginians.

That means recruiting new businesses and supporting current businesses in order to bring good-paying jobs and top talent. That means providing basic services that every citizen needs in order to contribute to our common good. And that means ensuring that every Virginian has a fair shot to reach their full potential.

I will fight to keep Virginia focused on these priorities so that companies, families and the entire country knows that Virginia is open for business and welcoming to all.

Sincerely,

Ralph Northam

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia