ACLU of Virginia Releases Review of 2006 General Assembly Session
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lowest Point is Approval of Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment, Highest Point is Privacy Protections for Data in Vehicular “Black Boxes”
RICHMOND, VA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia today released its annual review of the state legislative session. Civil Liberties Review: 2006 Session of the Virginia General Assembly describes approximately 100 bills introduced in 2006 that had the potential to affect civil liberties in Virginia.
“Without a doubt, the most shameful act of this legislative session was placing the anti-gay rights constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Sometime in the future, when gays and lesbians finally enjoy equal status in our society, the fact that 75 percent of Virginia’s legislators supported this disgraceful measure will be viewed with the same embarrassment we now attach to Massive Resistance.”
The Review divides the bills into nine categories: free expression, religious liberty, death penalty, reproductive rights, gay/lesbian rights, equal rights, privacy, criminal justice/due process and voting/access to government.
It notes as a success that Virginia lawmakers did not pass any bills restricting reproductive rights, even though more than a dozen were introduced. Lawmakers also refused to join numerous other state legislatures that the ACLU says overreacted to Rev. Fred Phelps’s crude and offensive protests at military funerals by restricting demonstrations near memorial services. Virginia did amend its disorderly conduct law to include a ban on disruptive behavior at funerals, but according to the ACLU, that change should not affect legitimate public demonstrations.
Virginia became one of the first states to protect the privacy rights of drivers by placing restrictions on access to information contained in the “black boxes” that now come standard in most new cars. Only California, New York, Maine and New Hampshire have such laws. Under the new Virginia law, the information contained in theses boxes — which may include things like the speed of the car at any given time or whether or not the driver was wearing a seatbelt — can on be viewed only by licensed dealers using the information for maintenance purposes or in complicated circumstances.
The 2006 Civil Liberties Review is online at www.acluva.org/publications/civillibertiesreview2006.pdf
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