Vogel votes with Democrats on gay-rights issue
Posted: January 26, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Local gay, lesbian and transgender individuals are encouraged after the state Senate passed a bill Friday that would help to put their rights on par with everyone else.
By a 24-16 vote, the Senate voted to prohibit the state government from discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation.
The move was applauded by members of the local Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter, which has about 45 members in the northern Shenandoah Valley.
“It’s a wonderful step,” said Annette Luethy, treasurer of the group.
Sixteen Republicans voted against the measure in the evenly divided Senate. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, joined three other Republicans and all 20 Democrats in passing the bill.
The proposal has won Senate approval in previous years, but has not made it through the Republican-controlled House of Delegates. Should the bill pass the House, it would also need the signature of Gov. Bob McDonnell — who omitted gays from a 2010 executive order banning workplace discrimination.
Luethy — whose wife is a transgender woman — is cautiously optimistic. “My fingers are crossed that we can have just as many rights as everyone else.”
Luethy said she and her wife have been fortunate not to have been victims of discrimination.
One PFLAG member was being harassed by a vendor at the office where she works, but her company put a stop to it, Leuthy added.
Although the bill would only prevent the state government from discriminating against people for their sexual orientation, she said it would still be a significant step. “Once the government steps up to the plate, private companies usually aren’t far behind.”
The Associated Press contributed some information for this report.
— Contact Conor Gallagher at email@example.com