Virginia’s newly empowered democratic lawmakers are advancing a passel of new legislation in the state’s general assembly, including protection against LGBTQ discrimination and a proposal to make election day a holiday. To top it off, Virginia’s democrats are set to debate a new ban on assault weapons. The propositions have Governor Ralph Northam’s full support.
According to NBC News, the anti-LGBTQ discrimination bill passed on Thursday with numerous bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate. This legislation forbids discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in housing, credit transactions, public and private employment, and public spaces. Virginia will be the first state in the south to enact such laws. “It’s important to know that discrimination is still happening…It is time to drive it out,” said bill sponsor Sen. Adam Ebbin.
Opponents believe the bill goes too far and will negatively impact religious freedom. “Make no mistake, this bill is intended to dismantle religious freedom and to force the government to make everyone conform to its version of marriage and sexuality,” declared Republican Del. David LaRock.
Also on Thursday, Virginia’s House of Delegates voted to do away with a holiday celebrating the legacies of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Axios reports that the legislature plans to make Election Day a statewide holiday instead.
But the most noteworthy proposal is a new ban on certain assault weapons, silencers and high-capacity magazines. The Associated Press writes that a state House committee has advanced the measure. However, it remains unclear if the ban has enough votes to pass in both chambers.
From the AP:
It’s the most ambitious measure proposed by Northam and one that’s met the most pushback, including from members of his own party. Gun owners packed the committee room Friday and erupted in protest when the measure passed. Capitol Police cleared the committee room of almost every spectator after the vote.
“Assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are weapons of war,” said Brian Moran, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security.