Virginia lawmakers are poised to end a state holiday honoring Confederate military leaders and establish Election Day as a holiday instead.
Democrats in Virginia's House of Delegates voted Thursday on the legislation striking Lee-Jackson Day, which honors Confederacy's military leaders Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on the Friday before the third Monday every January.
Instead, the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, Election Day, will become a holiday "for the right of citizens of a free society to exercise the right to vote," the House legislation says. Election Day was a holiday in Virginia until 1989, when the General Assembly removed it.
The state Senate passed its version of the bill in January. Before the bill becomes law, both houses, controlled by Democrats, would need to approve each other's versions in a procedural vote and Gov. Ralph Northam would need to sign it, which he has promised to do.
"We are making it easier for Virginians to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and building a more representative and inclusive Commonwealth as a result," Northam, a Democrat, tweeted Friday.
The legislation comes as Virginia in recent years has grappled with its Confederate past. Supporters of the bill say Lee-Jackson Day honors slave-holding men and is offensive to black Americans. Detractors argued for keeping it as a holiday to honor history.
"We can promote everyone. We can promote diversity," Republican Sen. Mark Peake said when the Senate bill passed, the Virginia Mercury reported. "We can add things without taking away or tearing down other things."
The Confederate holiday dates back to the late 1800s. It first honored Lee, and Jackson was added soon after. At one it point was combined with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Mercury reported. In 2000, it was separated from the day honoring the civil rights icon.
More on Confederate memorials: Confederate memorials turn up faster than they can be removed a year after Charlottesville
Plans to remove statues of Lee and Jackson in Charlottesville sparked the 2017 white nationalist rally that turned violent in which a counterprotester was killed when a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd. A growing push to take down other Confederate statues across the nation has been met with both approval and protest in recent years.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Virginia to swap Confederate Lee-Jackson Day for Election Day holiday