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Attorney General of Virginia

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Header for the Office of Civil Rights with the AG's Office seal

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HOUSE OF DELEGATES PASSES BILL TO MAKE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS PERMANENT

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

RICHMOND —Yesterday evening the Virginia House of Delegates passed a landmark civil rights 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 to expand, enhance, and centralize his ongoing work to secure and expand the civil rights of Virginians, and to protect all Virginians from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or other protected status. 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.

 

“This is a big moment in Virginia’s long and continuing journey to live up to its promise of equality for all. Every Virginian has the right to live free from discrimination, and free from the fear that they might be denied an opportunity or treated differently because of who they are, what they look like, how they worship, or whom they love,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “I created the Office of Civil Rights to enhance and centralize our ongoing work to protect, defend, and expand Virginians’ civil rights, and to make sure Virginians know that, as their attorney general, I will always stand up and fight for them if they encounter discrimination. By making this office a permanent part of the OAG, we are showing Virginians that we have turned the page on a past when attorneys general either ignored, or actually fought against, the civil rights of the people they were supposed to serve. This is a huge step forward for Virginia, and I can’t thank Majority Leader Herring enough for her leadership in sponsoring this bill and leading it to passage.”

 

“Virginians should be proud to know that protection and expansion of civil rights will now be a permanent part of the mission of the Office of Attorney General,” said Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “Attorney General Herring’s creation of the Office of Civil Rights showed real vision and a commitment to justice, and with this new law, we are ensuing that commitment will endure. We’ve come a long way from the days when Virginia’s attorney general went all the way to the Supreme Court to keep people like me out of our public schools, or to tell us who we could or couldn’t marry. The Office of Civil Rights will be a powerful, and now, a permanent force for good in our Commonwealth, and I am so proud to have helped make it happen.”

 

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” on the basis 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 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 and Pay 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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