Virginia sends bill to allow government employees to refuse same-sex marriages to Governor
The state of Virginia has sent a bill that allows tax-payer funded agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples if they hold religious or moral convictions to its Governor for final approval.
House Bill 2025, which was being pushed by Delegate Nicholas Freitas, was earlier in February passed by the full House of Delegates.
This bill states that “no person shall be required to participate in the solemnisation of any marriage.”
People who do discriminate will not be “subject to any penalty” if they are seen to be acting in “accordance with a sincerely held religious belief.”
The bill will allow discrimination against same-sex couple wanting to marry.
It has now been passed by the House of Representatives with 53 to 38 in a final vote which means it will now go to Governor Terry McAuliffe for his signature.
Governor McAuliffe vetoed a similar proposal last year.
The move was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, which compared it to other discriminatory pieces of legislation across the US.
“Let’s be clear, HB 2025 is nothing more than a thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Virginians and visitors to the state,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof.
“The measure has nothing to do with the right to practice one’s religion — which is already firmly protected in the U.S. Constitution — and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into law. Just as we saw in North Carolina, HB 2025 would no doubt inflict profound harm on Virginia’s people, reputation, and economy. Governor McAuliffe must follow through on his promise to veto this repulsive proposal.”
“Today is a sad day for the people of Virginia,” added Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish.
“Instead of working to find solutions to the real problems we face as a state, our lawmakers are pushing shameful legislation providing a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families. We don’t want to be the next North Carolina. We applaud Governor McAuliffe’s promise to veto HB 2025 which will send a clear message that this legislation does not represent the values we hold dear as Virginians.”
“We recognize that religion is a vital part of many Virginians’ daily lives, but HB 2025 does not protect religious liberty. Instead, it provides a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish.
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“Furthermore, its broad and vague definition of ‘person’ would set a dangerous precedent for discriminatory individuals and groups to be protected by our religious freedom laws.”
House Bill 2025 comes just after Virginia’s version of controversial bathroom-ban bill HB2 was killed without debate.
Introduced by Bob Marshall, the bill would have banned individuals from using a bathroom corresponding to any gender other than that displayed on their birth certificate.
The bill was quickly condemned by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who vowed to fight against such legislation.
Following the doing away with Marshall’s bill, he accused legislators of breaking campaign promises.
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed executive order 61, which protects the rights of LGBT people in public services.
The Order extends pre-existing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees to contractors and in the delivery of state services.