March 10, 2016 at 9:24 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Virginia House approves religious freedom bill

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

The Virginia House of Delegates on March 9, 2016, approved a religious freedom bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

Senate Bill 41 passed by a 59-38 margin.

The measure, which state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) introduced in December, would allow officials to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs. The Virginia Senate narrowly approved SB 41 last month.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, described SB 41 as an “unnecessary bill.” Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb applauded Wednesday’s vote.

“This legislation balances the recently discovered right to whatever definition of marriage you want with our nation’s longstanding principle of religious free exercise by ensuring that the heavy hand of government cannot penalize clergy or religious charities simply because of beliefs about marriage,” said Cobb in a statement. “Charitable religious organizations should be treated fairly, not targeted and punished by the government because of their beliefs about marriage. The faith that inspires their charitable service shouldn’t be used by the government to discriminate against them.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said he would veto SB 41 if it were to reach his desk.

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

  • No. Just no.

  • Religious freedom bills are really a veiled attempt to reintroduce discrimination without getting in trouble with the law. Substitute the word black or Jew for gay or trans and it’s just the same old outlawed discrimination. States will stop doing worthless legislation when they realize it costs them millions in lost business and revenues as the more progressive endeavors take business elsewhere.

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