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Newport News expands protections against discrimination in city code, catching up with state law

Daily Press logo Daily Press 8/11/2022 Jessica Nolte, Daily Press
Newport News City Hall © Daily Press/TNS Newport News City Hall

Newport News is catching up with a change to state law that adds protections against discrimination for people based on pregnancy, military status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2020, the General Assembly updated the Virginia Human Rights Act, making Virginia the first southern state to enact comprehensive protections against discrimination of the LGBTQ community with regard to employment, housing, public spaces and credit applications. The updates to the state code also expanded protections for pregnant people that require reasonable accommodations similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There were some significant changes to the state code about two years ago and we did not pick those changes up at the time,” City Attorney Collins Owens Jr. said. “When we looked around the area we realized none of the other localities around here had made the changes either.”

Owens said that many municipalities in Northern Virginia had already made the changes to align local anti-discrimination ordinances with the state code. So the Newport News City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the revisions to the city code.

The city code now protects against discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or military status. It applies to facilities — privately or publicly owned — that are used by the general public including educational institutions and in real estate transactions.

Jessica Nolte, 757-912-1675,

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