I was there. I was a witness.
Kirkland Cox, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, unilaterally decided to kill popular legislation in a blatant abuse of power. Bills preventing discrimination against LGBTQ citizens in commercial housing and public employment easily passed the Senate for the third consecutive year with bipartisan support in a vote of 29 to 10.
Speaker Cox then hurriedly sent the bills to the House General Laws Subcommittee #1. This committee is lopsided and stacked in favor of Republicans 5-2. Cox instructed his minions to summarily kill the bills.
On Thursday, February 8, despite the hurried move with little public notice, many people waited to share comments with legislators. Approximately 30 people spoke in favor of ending state-sanctioned discrimination. Both private citizens and company representatives spoke in favor of the bills. A transgender citizen who works at the Newport News shipyard, a parent of an adult gay man, and a woman who was part of the marriage equality decision in the Supreme Court, among others, spoke in support of the bills.
The nonprofit Housing Opportunities Made Equal presented a study where 44 percent of same-sex couples were discriminated against. A representative of Diversity Richmond pointed out that it is illegal to fire someone for their political or religious beliefs, but not because of who they love.
A representative of the Human Rights Campaign pointed out that the vast majority of Virginian’s support these bills. The Homebuilders Association supported these bills. The Association of Realtors supported the bills. Despite overwhelming support from citizens across the commonwealth, Delegates Hyland Fowler, Thomas Wright, Barry Knight, Richard Bell, and Jason Miyares callously disregarded the wishes of the people and dutifully did the bidding of their party by killing the bills.
Many of these legislators expressed support for the bills privately but refused to support them publicly. Hypocrites.
These men are all a disgrace to the offices they hold. This was a shameful display of extremist partisan politics. And to what end? How does state-sanctioned discrimination help our commonwealth in any way?
Hate was on full display in Richmond and it was ugly.