Foreward by Virginia Senate Member Adam P. Ebbin
Congratulations on the fourth issue of Q Virginia!
When I was first elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2003, I became the first openly gay member of the legislature in its 400-year history. However, we faced a hostile political climate when I arrived in Richmond the following winter, and a couple years later Virginia passed a constitutional amendment in a disgraceful effort to forever deny marriage equality to loving gay and lesbian couples.
When President Obama took office, I was optimistic that Virginia would mirror the trend at the federal level and move toward equality. I introduced legislation that would codify nondiscrimination protections for LGBT employees (Governors Warner and Kaine issued executive orders installing these protections, as has Governor McAuliffe, but executive orders can easily be reversed by future governors.) The arguments in favor of enacting these protections are multi-fold. In addition to the obvious moral and equality argument that a person should not be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation, there is also a powerful economic case to be made that failing to have these laws on the books could affect prospective companies’ decisions whether or not to move or create jobs in Virginia. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies for LGBT workers; to remain attractive to new and growing companies it’s imperative that we codify these protections at the state level as well. Efforts to pass these commonsense protections have faced stiff opposition each year from right-wing legislators, so we must resolve to continue working on this until we succeed.
The Supreme Court’s decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and invalidating state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage have been a tremendous boost to our efforts, with marriage equality now the law of the land in all 50 states. We still have much work to do to protect LGBT Americans from discrimination in housing, employment and other areas—let’s not let our straight friends forget that we can be married at noon, fired at two and evicted at four just because of who we love. But it is clear now more than ever that history is on our side and with enough work and outreach we can win these battles as well. In addition to our civic advocacy, let’s not forget that we can make tremendous strides in election years. Your participation is key. I encourage you to vote—and volunteer—for pro-equality candidates.
Q Virginia will be an important partner in statewide efforts to advocate for equality for the LGBT community, and I am very grateful for the work this publication is doing to inform, connect and engage our community. I will continue to read Q Virginia with great interest as it expands its reach and look forward to working with you to enact meaningful changes for our Commonwealth.