RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — As of Saturday, Virginia has become the first Southern state to enact legislation that provides extensive protection for the LGBTQ community against various acts of discrimination.

Governor Northam announced that he has signed the Virginia Values Act which protects LGBTQ Virginians against unfair treatment and harassment in housing practices, employment, public accommodations, and financial agreements.

“This legislation sends a strong, clear message — Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family,” said Governor Northam. “We are building an inclusive Commonwealth where there is opportunity for everyone, and everyone is treated fairly. No longer will LGBTQ Virginians have to fear being fired, evicted, or denied service in public places because of who they are.”

The legislation covers Senator Adam Ebbin’s sponsored Senate Bill 868 which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” Additionally, the act protects against crimes directed at those based on their “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, and status as a veteran.”

According to officials, this act has been in progress for decades and has involved combined efforts from advocates, community leaders, business owners, and constituents.

“It is now the law of the land that every Virginian can work hard, earn a living wage, and live their lives without fear of discrimination based on who they are or who they love. A tremendous victory,” said Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn.

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