Virginia has passed a law that extends anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, reportedly the first southern state to do so.
Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Values Act, also known as Senate Bill 868, into law on Saturday after it was passed by a Democrat-controlled legislature.
In a statement released last Saturday, Northam said that the new law “sends a strong, clear message” that “Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family.”
“We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly,” he said. “No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.”
Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement he believed the new law was necessary “during times of crisis like these.”
“When jobs are scarce and housing unaffordable, the reality of who you are must be an additional hurdle to putting food on the table or providing shelter for your family. This law provides important new protections,” stated Ebbin.
Critics of the legislation argued that, if enacted, the Values Act might threaten the religious liberty of those who are morally opposed to homosexuality and transgenderism.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski