Va. panel votes to protect gays from job discrimination

Boise Chief of Police William Bones, lower right, attends the House State Affairs Committee hearing on a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state's Human Rights Act, at the state Capitol building on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia Senate committee voted Monday to prohibit discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The measure proposed by Sen. Donald McEachin, a Henrico County Democrat, was approved by the Republican-controlled General Laws and Technology Committee on an 8-7 vote. Republican Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Fauquier County joined minority Democrats in support of the bill.

Vogel also cast the key vote on another measure to prohibit state agencies from including on employment applications a question asking whether the applicant has ever been arrested, charged with or convicted of a crime. The so-called “ban the box” bill was approved on an identical 8-7 vote.

Measures similar to both bills have cleared the Senate in the past but were killed in the House of Delegates.

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