The Agenda

Va., Colo., and R.I. face important votes this week

Out lawmakers in Virginia, Colorado and Rhode Island are busy this week working to pass legislation that would advance the LGBT community’s access to equal rights.

In Virginia, openly gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin and ally Sen. Donald McEachin succeeded last night in passing an employment non-discrimination bill through a key committee. SB701, the bill that would prohibit discrimination based on a public employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity, passed through the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee with an 8-7 vote, MetroWeekly reports. The bill will now move on to the 40-member Senate for a vote.

In Colorado, out State Sen. Pat Steadman continues to lead the effort to pass a civil unions bill, which the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear Wednesday afternoon. The bill is expected to easily pass, finally ending the years-long battle to win civil unions in the state.  Steadman told The Denver Post that this hearing should be far briefer and less dramatic than last year’s four-hour event: “How much more is there really to say about this? We’ve heard it before. People understand this. This is family law.”

And the breaking news in Rhode Island today is that the House Judiciary Committee unanimously endorsed HB5015, the bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state. On January 24, the bill will face the full House of Representatives, where openly gay Speaker Gordon D. Fox is in charge. State Sen. Donna Nesselbush, who is openly lesbian, is leading the Senate effort to win marriage equality along with bill co-sponsor State Sen. Arthur Handy, who is an ally.

Photo: Rhode Islanders United for Marriage