House Bill 773, which state Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) introduced, passed by a 21-19 vote margin.
State Sens. Richard Black (R-Loudoun County), Charles Carrico (R-Grayson County), A. Benton Chafin (R-Russell County), Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), William DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach), Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico County), Thomas Garrett (R-Buckingham County), Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta County), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County), Stephen Newman (R-Lynchburg), Thomas Norment (R-James City), Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham County), Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County), Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg County), William Stanley (R-Franklin County), Richard Stuart (R-Stafford County), Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond), David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke), Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier County) and Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) voted for the measure.
State Sens. Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk), George Barker (D-Fairfax County), Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg), R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), John Edwards (D-Roanoke), Barbara Faviola (D-Arlington County), Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County), Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack County), Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), David Marsden (D-Fairfax County), A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William County), John Miller (D-Newport News), J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax City), Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax County), Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County) opposed the bill.
The Virginia House of Delegates earlier this month approved HB 773.
The measure, which critics described as “a Kim Davis inspired bill,” would prohibit government entities 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.” It also said “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.”
The Senate approved an amended version of HB 773 that only deals with marriage.
“No person authorized to perform a marriage ceremony pursuant to Chapter 2 (§ 20-13 et seq.) of Title 20 shall be required to solemnize any marriage,” reads HB 773. “No religious organization, organization supervised or controlled by or operated in connection with a religious organization, individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of his employment, or clergy member or minister shall be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization of any marriage if the action would cause the individual or organization to violate a sincerely held religious belief.”
HB 773 also states “a refusal to solemnize a marriage or provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges…shall not give rise to civil or criminal liability or any other action by the commonwealth or a political subdivision to penalize or withhold benefits or privileges, including tax exemptions or governmental contracts, grants, or licenses, from any individual or organization.”
The Senate earlier this month approved a religious freedom bill that Carrico introduced.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has pledged to veto HB 773.