Yes! Virginia is for all lovers (and all employees and businesses)

Virginia is for loversTagline: North Carolina needs to take a few lessons from our neighbor Virginia. See also several additional pertinent links at the bottom of the article

As a diversity consultant and an out gay man in North Carolina, one state south of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I and others would often scoff at Virginia’s tourism slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” Some of us would create amended signs that read “Virginia is for SOME Lovers” since Virginia was one of those Southern States that long had a state constitutional amendment outlawing same-gender couples.

But now, with the latest executive order on January 5th signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia has progressed into a shining star of equality and fair play for all its citizens. Now let me tell you this story and provide the additional details.

The past: Yes, Virginia was one of the southern states that quite early in the “marriage equality” movement prohibited the recognition of same-gender marriages. Of course that was completed voided by the June, 2015 Supreme Court ruling that provided for same gender marriage recognition and availability across all fifty states.

The present: But then early this year, Virginia surpassed her southern neighbors with Governor McAuliffe signing state executive order Number 61 on January 5th. It directs all Executive Branch entities to include in their procurement contracts valued over $10,000 a prohibition on discrimination by the contractor in its employment practices, subcontracting practices, and delivery of goods or services, on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status. Executive Branch entities must also require that the contractor will include the same nondiscrimination requirements in every subcontract, vendor contract, or state procurement contract.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

In signing this, his first executive order as a the new Governor, Mr. McAuliffe stated, “As my first act as Governor, I signed Executive Order 1 to ban discrimination in the state workforce based on sexual orientation, take divisive social issue battles off the table and help build an open and welcoming economy. Starting today, the Commonwealth of Virginia will not do business with entities that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Virginia is home to the best state workforce in the country and this policy will ensure there is no question that all Virginians are to receive the full benefits of their citizenship, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

As a diversity and inclusion consultant with a very deep expertise in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) diversity, I stand excited and ready to assist any company doing business with the commonwealth of Virginia with the consulting services and training to fully comply with the order as well as building the corporate culture to assure true execution.

The future: Being here in North Carolina, where last year our out-of-touch legislature passed our hateful and economically harmful state anti-LGBT legislation known as HB-2, I encourage our new governor Roy Cooper to follow suit with Virginia and issue our own similar order for our state’s executive branch contractors.
_ _ _ _ _ _

Useful and interesting links:
The complete text of Virginia Executive Order 61

An interesting history of Virginia’s “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan.

President Obama’s similar executive order for LGBT protections at the federal level.

My blog about the harmful impacts of North Carolina’s HB2.

Why do we all need someone to hate on? … and now in North Carolina, it’s transgender people

So is it appropriate for this beautiful woman to use the men's room?  Our North Carolina legislature and governor sure think so.

So is it appropriate for this beautiful woman to use the men’s room? Our North Carolina legislature and governor sure think so.

There has been so much written the past few days about the horrific anti-LGBT bill that just passed in North Carolina, I decided to write a blog about the larger systemic societal and political issue that has led to this.

As a diversity consultant, as a Christian, and as an overall positive upbeat person, I cannot understand why a huge segment of the American population needs “someone” or “some group” to “hate on.” It is a very sad fact that many people run for public office on platforms of what group we are going to punish or kick out. In the distant past, African-Americans were often demonized, as well as business-oriented women who wanted equality in the workplace. Then after that it was gays and lesbians, and in a way, they are still a target in many locations. But lately it seems the heat of hatred has been really turn up on undocumented immigrants (often referred to as illegal aliens – I thought all people were created and loved by God so how can they be “illegal?”), Muslims, and especially on transgender people.

Transgender people are indeed a very small segment of our population, but have been increasing in visibility as high profile celebrities such as Chas (formerly Charity) Bono and Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner have come out and undergone gender transition. Now over half of US Fortune 500 companies include nondiscrimination protection for transgender individuals, and many now include gender transition medical benefits. (link to my blog about the increasing visibility of transgender people.)

But now in many states, legislators are proposing new laws that would be very harmful to transgender people, including not allowing them to use the public restroom of their presenting gender, or not being able to change official records such as drivers licenses if their current gender does not match their gender assigned at birth. Some politicians are causing a frenzy of hate against transgender people by shamelessly scaring people with totally fabricated and non-factual statements such as transgender people going into restroom to molest children.

Quote courtesy of Blackwell Pierce

Quote courtesy of Blackwell Pierce

Now in my state of North Carolina, our State Republican leaders called a hastily convened expensive special session of our state assembly and in one day with minimal reviews and discussion passed a state law forbidding municipalities of including protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in their own non-discrimination ordinances. In addition, this new state law dictates that transgender people must use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate.

Recently, my letter to the editor (link) of our local newspaper (the Raleigh News and Observer) was published where I shared the true factual information. Namely:

1. Transgender women are truly women and transgender men are truly men, and the medical profession will support that.

2. Transgender women and men go into the restroom of their presenting gender to “relieve themselves”, period. Watch this fun video of a transgender woman singing about needing to pee.

3. There are never been a single recorded incident of a transgender person attempting to molest someone in a restroom. Never. Not one.

So what are these politicians afraid of? Sadly, they must feel the only way to get elected is to appeal to humanity’s base side and give them someone to hate. How sad!

ACTION: All people who want to stand up against hate need to reject all politicians who operate out of that mindset and elect officials who want to treat all people fairly and humanely.

FINAL NOTE: Blog author Stan C. Kimer provides corporate and organizational training on a wide range of diversity topics including transgender diversity. Check out “my speaking page” where you can see my upcoming schedule and request a copy of my speaking package.