Contrary viewpoints used to be welcomed in a rational debate. In the clash of ideas, people won others over to their position. Those seeking the truth had an opportunity to find it.
Today, the situation has changed radically. Emotions, feelings and “my personal truth” are the arguments, and opinions have replaced reasoning. Opposing someone by words or acts can be risky. Should an opposing gesture or word be deemed demeaning, it might even be considered harassment, discrimination or hate.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides a clear definition of discrimination and harassment. However, the recently passed Virginia Values Act (VVA) goes much further with a broad interpretation of discrimination. The act thus weaponizes speech for ideological purposes and will silence any opposition.
With the election of a Democrat majority in both legislative houses, liberals in the Commonwealth of Virginia are passing their bucket lists of laws favoring their agenda. The VVA is high on that list. It muzzles those who oppose the politically correct idea that the LGBTQ+ movement is a privileged minority that cannot be opposed. The Act makes it incredibly easy to sue based on vague allegations of discrimination or harassment.
- Proponents say it is a needed protection and will have no financial impact on businesses or the Commonwealth.
- The opposition says it opens the door to baseless discrimination lawsuits costing Virginia business owners and taxpayers dearly. Such frivolous lawsuits silence any opposition to the LGBTQ+ agenda.
This proposed bill echoes California’s unjust Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which allows for unlimited compensatory and punitive damages in discrimination cases. The VVA goes even further by imposing civil fines.
Under the VVA, only the accuser receives compensation, not the employer. If an accuser initiates a baseless lawsuit that would compel an innocent business to spend upwards of $250,000 to defend itself in a trial, the business will not be reimbursed for its legal expenses if it wins. If the accuser wins, a business will have to pay for the accuser’s legal expenses. This double standard is called “equality.”
Unlike California, where an employer can be awarded its legal expenses in groundless lawsuits, the Virginia provisions have little to check those who want to game the system.
The Act ends up encouraging employers to pay off those who make ambiguous accusations of discrimination. It creates horrible conditions for starting or maintaining a business in Virginia.
The VVA also creates a disconcerting conflict of interest for the Commonwealth’s Attorney General. It allows for the attorney general to sue private and public employers and even the state itself. This provision contradicts the role of an attorney general—which is to defend the state, not sue it.
The VVA claims that it presents no fiscal impact to Executive Branch agencies. However, this claim is nonsense. A single discrimination lawsuit could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend itself against a vague claim of discrimination. This could happen, for example, if a state employer does not recognize a person’s new “sexual identity.” In these suits, the taxpayer will foot the bill.
In civil cases settled out of court, the private company may pay the accuser, but the customer will foot the bill. Either way, the citizens of Virginia are facing a bleak economic future with greater hurtles in starting a business or maintaining one.
The proof of such a bleak future can be found in the unattractive business climate created in California by similar bills. California has seen employment rates drop and businesses leave at alarming rates because it is unfriendly to commerce.
The real purpose of the VVA seems to be to force the acceptance of LGBTQ+ lifestyles or be sued into oblivion. Unfortunately, the only thing that the VVA accomplishes is to silence anyone who might disagree with these immoral lifestyles through abusive legal action.