Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued and signed an executive order on Thursday, January 5, prohibiting state contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories of discrimination.
The order, however, will only apply to contracts made with the executive branch of the state. It also only applies to contracts made after the EO was signed, and to contracts worth over $10,000.
The executive order took effect immediately after it was signed by the governor.
“All Executive Branch entities are ordered to include in their procurement contracts valued over $10,000 a prohibition on discrimination by the contractor, in its employment practices, subcontracting practices, and delivery of goods or services, on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, disability, or veteran status,” the text of Executive Order 61 reads.
Executive Order 61 is similar to the first executive order that McAuliffe made since his inauguration into office in 2014, which barred discrimination in employment practices in the state government workforce.
“Starting today, the Commonwealth of Virginia will not do business with entities that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Virginia is home to the best state workforce in the country and this policy will ensure there is no question that all Virginians are to receive the full benefits of their citizenship, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Meanwhile, the order includes an exemption for “certain private child-placement agencies.” In 2012, the state adopted a "conscience clause" allowing adoption agencies funded by the state to turn away certain individuals or couples for religious or moral reasons.
The executive order drew support from LGBT rights groups, such as Equality Virginia.
“In addition to keeping Virginia a place with a common-sense, pro-business government, today’s Executive Order is a huge leap forward in our goal toward becoming a state that is a safe, welcoming, and equal place for all Virginians,” executive director of Equality Virginia James Parrish said.
Conservative groups such as The Family Foundation criticized the move.
“In essence, the Governor is saying that you can’t do business with the state unless you allow men into women’s bathrooms and fully embrace the administration’s view that there are no distinctions between male and female, as well as its definition of marriage,” said Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation, in a statement. “This affects hundreds of entities that provide goods and services to or on behalf of the state, including many churches, charities, and other faith-based institutions.”
The executive order can only be changed or repealed with another executive order.