February 11, 2016 at 11:27 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. House committee approves religious freedom bill

Todd Gilbert, Republican Party, Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) introduced a religious freedom bill last month. (Screen capture from VAGOPTV via YouTube)

A Virginia House of Delegates committee on Thursday approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in the state.

Members of the House General Laws Committee approved House Bill 773 by a 13-7 vote margin.

State Dels. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), David Albo (R-Prince William County), Thomas Wright (R-Lunenburg County), Richard Anderson (R-Prince William County), Thomas Greason (R-Loudoun County), Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach), James LeMunyon (R-Fairfax County), Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson), Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield County), Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna), Richard Bell (R-Albemarle County), Randall Minchew (R-Loudoun County) and James Leftwich (R-Chesapeake) voted for the measure. State Dels. Joseph Yost (R-Giles County), David Bulova (D-Fairfax County), Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), Luke Torian (D-Prince William County), Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) and Daun Sessoms Hester (D-Norfolk) voted against the bill.

State Del. Christopher Peace (R-Hanover County) abstained, while state Del. Lashresce Aird (D-Petersburg) did not vote.

Gilbert introduced HB 773 last month.

The measure, which is also known as the Government Nondiscrimination Act, would prohibit “a government entity” from taking “any discriminatory action against a person, in whole or in part, on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that…marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” HB 773 also includes “the male sex and the term ‘man’ and the female sex and the term ‘woman’ refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics of the individual at the time of birth.”

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, criticized HB 773 after the vote.

The measure will now go before the full House of Delegates, which is controlled by Republicans.

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

  • Apparently Virginia is NOT for lovers. Glad I sold my property there.

  • So much for saying the SCOTUS decision settled the issue on marriage equality! I told you biitches that the social conservatives would continue to push for legislation to get around it just like they’ve done with abortion rights. Maybe now you’ll listen and stop assuming you’ve arrived and being GLBT in America doesn’t matter anymore. Haters continue hating and you can’t legislate or court mandate that away!

    They will create hurdles and flaming hoops for you to jump and try and drag on the issue with endless litigation.

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