RICHMOND — The Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday defeated an effort to restore anti-discrimination language to a Senate bill to legalize phone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft.
The original bill would have prohibited car service companies and their drivers from discriminating against “passengers or potential passengers on the basis of points of departure and destination, race, color, national origin, religious belief or affiliation, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
The language had been picked up from legislation proposed in states where rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are enshrined in state code.
After noticing the wording last month, a Senate committee stripped it from the bill and replaced it with a requirement that car services “comply with all applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination.” In Virginia, such protections are not extended to LGBT status.
The amended bill passed the Senate in January and moved to the House. And that is where Del. Marcus B. Simon (D-Fairfax) offered a floor amendment on Wednesday to restore the original language.
“We heard this bill was designed to protect the public, and that’s a very important and laudable goal,” he said. “The public ought to be protected from discrimination, and that includes discrimination based on race, color, national origin and — let’s get down to it — sexual orientation and gender identity. People want to be able to live where they want, work where they want, and get a ride without regard to who they are.”
Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), whose car services bill has already cleared both chambers, said it would be unfair to hold those companies to a standard higher than state code imposes on other Virginia businesses. He also said that Uber and Lyft have corporate policies prohibiting discrimination.
The House voted 62 to 33 to reject Simon’s amendment.^