Workplace and Employment

Prohibiting Public Employment Discrimination (2014 SB 248)

POFEV supports Virginia Senate Bill 248.  SB 248 would prohibit public employers in Virginia from discriminating on the basis of "race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran covered by the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (38 U.S.C. § 4212)." 

The bill also contains two important definitions. "Sexual orientation" is defined as "a person's actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality."  "Gender identity" is defined as "the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth."

In testimony before a General Assembly subcommittee hearing in favor of SB 248, POFEV offered the following question to the legislators:

"Will we decide to take God at God’s word, and accept, and more than accept, will we welcome and celebrate the abundance and diversity of God’s human family that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians among our state workforce?

The full text of POFEV's statement is below, and you also can download it here."


POFEV_logo_for_web.jpgStatement of Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline, President & CEO

In support of SB 248

January 20, 2014

robin.gorsline@pofev.org 804/519-3196

 My name is Rev. Dr. Robin H. Gorsline, and I am here representing POFEV: People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, to speak in favor of SB 248. POFEV has long supported legislation to protect LGBT workers against discrimination, just as we support legislation to protect workers from discriminatory actions, practices, and attitudes on other grounds.

We are an interfaith organization and speak from our shared spiritual locations. The fundamental spiritual issue that undergirds this bill is this: will we, as a Commonwealth, a common wealth, accept the gift that God gives us, namely the gift of hundreds, probably several thousands of LGBT state employees?  Will we decide to take God at God’s word, and accept, and more than accept, will we welcome and celebrate the abundance and diversity of God’s human family that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians among our state workforce?

This is a question of justice, of course, but it also is a question of the heath of the workplace environment, and a matter of providing all the support we can to employees, our employees, to do their very best. 

Faith leaders across the spectrum of beliefs recognize that the work people do is more than a paycheck, it is an expression of their very personhood, a personhood that is divine in its origin.

An ex-congregant of mine, who until recently worked as a state employee for about 30 years, told me that she had not felt comfortable displaying the picture of her spouse on her desk. She said she knew that many of her colleagues knew of her wife, some even asked about her and their life together on occasion, but she never wanted to make it official, fearing that someone, perhaps a new supervisor or someone from another department or agency, would see it and make trouble, at the very least say something mean, or just ignorant.

She said to me, “That hurt, when everyone else openly shared about their spouses and families, and more than that, it stifled my spirit.” It seems evident to me that employees whose spirits are stifled, or muffled, are not going to be able to give all that they have to give to their work. That is their loss, and it is ours as the employer.

Some faiths explicitly understand work as an act of worship, building on the understanding that our work is not only what we do outwardly in the world, but also can be an expression of our deepest yearnings, of our fundamental identity, our soul. When the employee can work from that soul place, his or her work glows. We want that to be possible for every state employee.

So, we thank Sen. McEachin for offering this bill, and urge you to protect workers on the job. Do not deny the God who created, and creates, them. Let their souls glow and animate their work. Support this legislation to help all our excellent state workers shine and thus help our Commonwealth to shine.

POFEV (People of Faith for Equality in Virginia), P.O. Box 4919, Richmond, VA 23220 • www.facebook.com/pofev

email info@pofev.org