Virginia creates first LGBTQ+ advisory board to 'link' government and community

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Virginia creates first LGBTQ+ advisory board to 'link' government and community

By Alexandra Kelley | April 30, 2021

Story at a glance

  • On Monday, Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation creating an LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.
  • Consisting of 21 nonlegislative members, the board will focus on policy that affects the LGBTQ+ community.
  • This comes as multiple restrictive LGBTQ+ bills have been passed and introduced in other state legislatures across the country.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed a new bill into law on Monday that creates Virginia’s first LGBTQ+ Advisory Board meant to better inform the state legislature on how policy decisions will affect the state’s LGBTQ+ community.

First introduced into the Commonwealth as a House Bill (HB 2130), the legislation will was sponsored by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) and had the support of more than a dozen fellow legislators.

Board members will advise the governor “regarding the development of economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the Commonwealth and the LGBTQ+ community in Virginia.”

The board would be composed of 21 nonlegislative citizen members, with at least 15 identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community. They will be appointed by state leaders, namely the governor, state secretaries of commerce and trade, education, health and human resources, and public safety and homeland security, along with other state agencies.

The members of the board will serve various terms. Five members will serve a term of one year, with another five serving for a two-year term. Five additional members will serve for a term of three years, with the remaining six members will serve under a four-year term.

Some of the issues the board will review are how economic, social and legal policy initiatives will specifically affect the LGBTQ+ community of Virginia.

“Today, I signed legislation creating a new advisory board that will ensure the LGBTQ+ community has a permanent voice in Virginia's executive branch—no matter who is governor,” Northam wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Preemptive costs of operating the board are estimated to be around $25,000.

Lopez noted that Virginia is the first state in the South to create an LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.

“When I was first getting involved in Virginia politics, same-sex couples could not marry and any resident could be denied employment or housing on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he told NBC News reporters in an email. “Not only have we successfully overturned decades of discriminatory policies, but now this bill will mandate that Virginia’s LGBTQ+ residents have a seat at the table for all state government issues.”

Other advisory boards created by the state include the Virginia African American Advisory Board, Asian Advisory Board, Complete Count Commission, Council on Women, and the Latino Advisory Board.

Published on Apr 30, 2021


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