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Attorney General of Virginia

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For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, OAG
Phone: (804)356-5077 mobile
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HOUSE COURTS COMMITTEE ADVANCES BILL TO MAKE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS PERMANENT

~ Legislation would make Attorney General Herring’s Office of Civil Rights a permanent part of the Office of Attorney General ~

RICHMOND —Today the Virginia House of Delegates Courts of Justice committee advanced a bill from Attorney General Mark R. Herring and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring to make the Office of Civil Rights a permanent part of the Office of Attorney General. Attorney General Herring created the Office of Civil Rights within the Office of Attorney General to expand, enhance, and centralize his ongoing work to protect Virginians from discrimination and to secure and expand the rights of all Virginians. The designation of the Office of Civil Rights was the culmination of a multiyear plan to expand the authority and resources dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Virginians, and to place the protection of civil rights at the center of the mission of the Office of Attorney General.

 

“I have placed the protection and expansion of Virginians’ civil rights at the center of our mission and made it a focus of all that we do,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Now, it’s time to lock-in that commitment by making my Office of Civil Rights a permanent feature of the Office of Attorney General so that Virginians will always know their attorney general will stand up and fight for them. I want every Virginian to know that I will always defend their rights, and wherever we find discrimination and oppression, we will put a stop to it. No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, or who you love, as your attorney general, I will have your back and I will fight for you.”

 

“Attorney General Herring’s creation of the Office of Civil Rights was a landmark moment for our Commonwealth, and a powerful statement about how far we have come,” said Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “Too many of AG Herring’s predecessors either considered civil rights an afterthought, or worse, actively fought against them. In the not too distant past, AGs from Virginia went all the way to the Supreme Court to keep people who look like me out of public schools, or to tell us who we could and couldn’t marry. I’m so thankful we now have an attorney general that fights for the rights of his citizens, rather than against them, and I can’t wait to make this focus a permanent part of the attorney general’s mission.”

 

HB2147 makes Attorney General Herring’s Office of Civil Rights a permanent feature of the Office of Attorney General. It states that the Office of Civil Rights will exist “to investigate and bring actions to combat discrimination,” and will carry out the Commonwealth’s updated statement of policy on the civil and human rights of all Virginians:

 

The Commonwealth’s revised policy on civil and human rights states that:

 

“It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide for equal opportunities throughout the Commonwealth to all its citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, familial status, marital status, or status as a veteran and, to that end, to prohibit discriminatory practices with respect to employment, places of public accommodation, including educational institutions, and real estate transactions by any person or group of persons, including state and local law-enforcement agencies, in order that the peace, health, safety, prosperity, and general welfare of all the inhabitants of the Commonwealth be protected and ensured.”

 

The Office of Civil Rights works to expand and protect Virginians’ civil rights in many ways, including:

 

  • Conducting Pattern or Practice Investigations to Identify and Eliminate Unconstitutional and Illegal Policing
  • Combating LGBTQ and Gender-based Discrimination
  • Combating Housing Discrimination
  • Combating Employment Discrimination
  • Addressing Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation
  • Protecting the Rights of Expectant and New Mothers

 

The Office was created to centralize and enhance the work Attorney General Herring has done to secure, defend, and expand the rights of Virginians, including:

 

 

Under Attorney General Herring’s leadership, the Office of Civil Rights includes thirteen staff members, including seven attorneys, after inheriting an office of just four employees, with only one attorney, when he first took office in 2014.

 

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