January 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. Senate committee approves ‘Kim Davis’ religious freedom bill

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

Members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee by an 8-6 vote margin approved Senate Bill 40, which state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) introduced last month.

State Sens. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham County), Thomas Norment (R-James City), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County), Richard Stuart (R-Stafford County), Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsvylvania County), Thomas Garrett (R-Buckingham County) and A. Benton Chafin (R-Russell County) voted for the measure. All six Democrats on the committee — state Sens. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County), L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), John Edwards (D-Roanoke), A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County — and one Republican, state Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond), opposed SB 40.

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus in a press release it released after the vote described SB 40 as a “Kim Davis” bill, referring to the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“If public officials don’t want to carry out their prescribed duties, they should not seek election or appointment to those offices,” said McEachin in the press release. “What should never happen is for their prejudices to impose burdens or inequalities on Virginians who simply want to exercise their lawful rights. Public servants need to serve, and serve all Virginians — which is the opposite of what this bill proposes.”

Gays and lesbians have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

Carrico earlier this week compared homosexuality to cancer. The Galax Republican made the comment during a hearing on a bill that seeks to ban so-called conversion therapy in Virginia.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

38 Comments
  • This is utter stupidity. People hired to not do their job. The legislators who introduced these laws should be thrown out of office and their salaries be given to feed the poor. What a waste of our money.

  • Yes, the SCOTUS ruling was the end of the marriage battles wasn’t it? I knew that religious conservatives would continue to press for laws to get around it much like they’ve done to get around Roe V. Wade. Kim Davies was indeed just the tip of the iceberg. What happened to the issue of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama telling clerks they don’t have to issue licenses despite the SCOTUS ruling? More litigation.

    Whether or not these laws are illegal is not so much the issue, Rather it’s the need for Gay and Lesbians to continue to waste time and resources to fight the legislation in court, meanwhile being denied their rights while the lawsuits make it through the courts.

    • If religious zealots and fascist that mistakenly believed we are a 3rd world theocratic regime kept away from civil rights, all this time could have been saved. Wanting marriage equality is a right, the root cause is the “need for religious fanatics to continue imposing their savage religious doctrine upon the rights of others wasting taxpayer dollars because everyone else won’t tolerate their bullshit”. Just thought I would correct that. You seemed to have had it mixed up.

  • SCOTUS GAY RULING WAS REALLY INVALID BECAUSE IT WAS NOT BASED ON THE CONSTITUTION…. ACCORDING TO INJUSTICE KENNEDY IT WAS BASED ON A NON-EXISTANT CHARTER THAT HE AND THE OTHER FOUR MADE UP…
    ALSO SCOTUS DOES NOT CREATE OR MAKE LAW IT IS SUPPOSED TO INTERPRET IT BASED STRICTLY ON WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS..
    ALSO TWO JUSTICES PERFORMED GAY MARRIAGES PRIOR TO THE VOTE. THATS A CONFLICT OF INTETESTS THAT SHOULD HAVE RECUSSED THEM…..
    SO WITH THOSE INDISPUTSBLE FACTS WHY SHOULD ANYONE OR STATE FEEL LIKE THEY ARE BOUND TO COMPLY….
    WHY DO SO MANY DEMOCRATES HATE THE FIRST AMENDMENT?
    THANK YOU KIM! YOU ARE A TRUE PATRIOT…….

    • Poppycock! It was valid. Deal with it.

      • Valid only to those who don’t believe SCOTUS is bound by what the Constitution says and not upon an imagined non-existent charter… Why you think they couldn’t reference the Constitution with their majority opinion….

        • It was a ruling to interpret the constitution by SCOTUS, statewide marriage bans are unconstitutional and it *was* and *is* legal. States never had the right to institute gay marriage bans to begin with. Secondly allowing middle eastern barbaric biblical doctrine to dictate civil rights and compromise the integrity of democracy is far more unconstitutional anyways. If you want to live under a theocracy/caliphate their are plenty of 3rd world middle eastern shitholes that would love to have you.

          • Like I said the SCOTUS ruling was not based on what the Constitution says…. It was based on a non-existent make believe charter… Thats what Kennedy said… So, anyone who believes in the American process of Law in the High Court can not see this as legitimate…. Justices who vote without precedent or reference to the Constitution have made themselves legislators which is UNCONSTITUTIONAL… When the repubs take the White House their will be new SC Justices appointed to the bench who will respect the Constitution; soon after the invalid ruling on gay marriage will be corrected and America will return to being a Nation of Constitutional honor again…. Read the Constitution and you will discover for yourself why Kennedy had to make up his imaginary charter….

          • Doesn’t matter what a single dissenting justice said. There are 9 justices in SCOTUS. All it takes is 5 votes for a decision to be final. The other 4 can disagree all they want. They can write their dissenting opinion. Sometimes those opinions actually shape future laws. But current laws are ruled by the majority opinions, not the dissenting ones. That’s how SCOTUS works. Kennedy is entitled to his dissenting opinion. But he lost the votes, so that’s that. No justices get to win every decision every time. There will almost always be dissenting opinions. Again, that’s how it works. It is Constitution simply by virtual that the SCOTUS voted it to be Constitutional, whether you or anyone else like it or not.

          • You just explained the process… Your are exactly right… My point is how their votes were deliberated….. Their frame of reference as explained by Kennedy himself was on a self serving imagined charter that is non-existant…. They voted based on their own personal bias not on the Constitution which in the view of many Constitutional schalors makes it invalid. And don’t forget SCOTUS does not make laws which is another reason it is invalid.

          • The SC didn’t make new law. They ruled state bans on marriage equality were unconstitutional, which they clearly are.

          • Not a new law? Then when did the congress vote gay marriage in as a law….

          • Again, the Supreme Court struck down state laws that violate the Federal Constitution–that is their job. They didn’t create law, they invalidated illegal law.

        • Mike you don’t understand the first amendment that is probably due to your lack of reading comprehension.

        • Where did you earn your law degree, mike?

          • http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+SB40. Here is the scary bill
            This says the clerk can deny on personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds
            Basically they can deny anyone and completely avoid doing thir job.
            People who work for the government must uphold our laws like them or not . I fail to see how issuing a license for something you disagree with is that unconscionable anyway. If this is designed to protect Christians from the appearance of condoning homosexuality, what is protecting them from judging others? I thought that was for god? Wait until the first clerk denies a license to an interracial couple. What about previously divorced people? What about atheist?in theory this bill is wide open for personal bias and descrimination to run rampant. Call and write NOW it is not too late

    • Hey Mike COULD YOU USE ANY MORE CAPS. Actually the caps don’t bother me nearly as much as your horrible spelling,awful grammar, and the content of your illogical diatribe.

    • See what you don’t seem to understand is the first amendment is there to protect a person’s freedom to exercise their religion, not to impose it on others or to make others live by their religious rules. It also does not guarantee you a right to a job you refuse to do.

      • Ist amendment says not to prohibit the exercise there of so who’s imposing on who or who’s being forced by religious rules?

        • Any time a government official exercises religious discrimination in dealing with the public, they’re the ones imposing. Government doesn’t have “free exercise” rights; CITIZENS do.

          • Religouse discrimination is an act of denying a lawful right of someone based on their religious affiliation…. Forcing anyone to perform, act, participate in breaking, violating their deeply held religious belief is very inconsiderate, intollerant, and disregards the 1st amendment…. America is or use to be about freedom everyone suffers when force is used to make a person do something against their reasonable objection…..

          • “Religouse discrimination is an act of denying a lawful right of someone based on their religious affiliation”

            Correct. So who is being denied a lawful right, and what right is it that they’re losing? Government workers don’t have a ‘right’ to treat citizens unequally in the performance of their duties, do they?

        • Basically Mike it means that you have a right to follow your religion and abide by its rules, but you do not have the right to make others follow your rules. In other words if she doesn’t want to acknowledge gay marriage fine, she doesn’t have to have one and she can dislike it all she wants. However, she does not have the right to tell others they cannot have one. Her job is optional she chose to do this job, which means she is obligated to do it. If her religious views won’t allow for that than she has the right to step down from her position. But she does not have the right to tell others they can’t get married because of her religion. Jobs are elective positions, nobody is forcing her to do that job.

    • And you are a Theocrat that that first Amendment was written to protect us from.

  • I’ll give that to you Inm3921, as a class of people we are still denied our rights every day regardless of marriage equality. And they, the heaters just don’t see it. On the heaters behalf our legislators are doing this to all LGBTQ and at what cost to all citizans. I’m sorry all republican conservatives are a joke and NEED to be put in their place.

  • AKA “The Unrepentant Serial Adulteress” religious freedom bill.

  • That is the first step down that slippery slope to a Theocracy and I believe, if we didn’t have 5 Catholic Supreme Court Justices who don’t follow the Constitution in matters of religion, that it would be declared Unconstitutional.

  • Don’t use the Lord’s name in vein…. Your such a happy person…

  • They didn’t say thats what the Constitution means…. They said that is what a non-existant charter meant.. There was nothing in the Constitution they referenced that they could base their votes on…. It was based on their personal bias…

  • It truly would be terrible thing to deprive Republicans of their constitutional right to deprive others of their constitutional rights.

  • Here we have an example of the ‘Conservative’ gridlock. They will spend tons of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY in their efforts to get this piece of trash enacted into law. Which, then there will be more resources expended to challenge it, where it will be struck down so fast, since it is unconstitutional.

  • I’m not gay or even lean towards that way but I think I shall go marry a Man..

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