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.
HB 773 reports out to full House. Individuals, businesses and organizations can discriminate against LGBT people pic.twitter.com/bqsZmgghgR
— Equality Virginia (@EqualityVA) February 12, 2016
The measure will now go before the full House of Delegates, which is controlled by Republicans.