On Tuesday, a measure that included four pro-LGBT bills was passed in the Virginia Senate, providing hope that LGBT rights are progressing in the red state, according to Virginia Mercury.
If passed in the House of Delegates, the measure would:
- Ban conversion therapy for minors
- Create policies for transgender students in public schools
- Facilitate the process of transgender people changing their gender on their birth certificates, and
- Remove the language in the state code banning same-sex marriage
The purpose of that last point is to have the Virginia state code reflect the decision made in the Obergefell v. Hodges cases that made same-sex marriage legal across the United States.
Reading through those points, I can only think of the positives associated with this measure, but I’m afraid some people think that this is a negative thing. Specifically, the Republican members of the VA senate were the ones to oppose this measure. One such member is Steve Newman, who said he agrees with 95% of the measure but is opposed to it because he feels that banning conversion therapy is a way to silence Christian counselors. He said “I think if we looked at 95 percent of it, we could all agree on it…But if you happen to be a counselor and happen to be a Christian, you are being told what you can and can’t say.”
However, the man responsible for the measure, Scott Surovell said that his proposal is merely a way to have legislation codify regulations passed in recent years, such as a proposal by Senator Jennifer Boysko saying that under her proposal, a transgender person would be able to get a new birth certificate that accurately reflects their gender identity. Another proposal would address school policies in regard to identification and dress codes to prevent bullying and harassment of transgender students. Knowing this, I would agree with Surovell: this new measure would just put the recent proposals into law.
As mentioned above, this measure must now be passed within Virginia’s House of Delegates in order for these proposals to become law. Do you think that this will get passed and thus provide a better quality of life for LGBTQ Virginians or will this get turned down? I choose to be optimistic about this, as the measure was already passed in the Senate so there’s a good chance that it will be passed in the House of Delegates.
Source: Virginia Mercury