February 2, 2017 at 8:59 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Religious freedom bill passes in Va. House

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

The Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 2, 2017, approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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

Lawmakers approved House Bill 2025 by a 57-37 vote margin.

The measure, which state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) introduced, would not require any person, religious organization or affiliates to “participate in the solemnization of any marriage” if it conflicts 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 2025 would also prohibit Virginia officials from punishing those who refuse to take part in a gay or lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.

“We recognize that religion is a vital part of many Virginians’ daily lives, but HB 2025 does not protect religious liberty. Instead, it provides a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement the Human Rights Campaign released after the vote. “Furthermore, its broad and vague definition of ‘person’ would set a dangerous precedent for discriminatory individuals and groups to be protected by our religious freedom laws.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2016 vetoed a similar bill. The Virginia Senate failed to override his veto.

McAuliffe last month signed an executive order that bans anti-LGBT discrimination among state employees, contractors and subcontractors.

The Family Foundation of Virginia described McAuliffe’s mandate as “anti-faith” and “anti-freedom” in a tweet that it posted in response to a House subcommittee’s vote in support of HB 2025 on Jan. 19.

HB 2025 now goes to the Senate.

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

  • Atheists should then be allowed to discriminate against anyone with a religious belief, particularly those beliefs that are immoral or evil like this bill. Watch out for these Christian Superamists and their desire for this country to be run by the Christian’s own form of Shira Law.. They are trying to force everyone to abide by their distorted beliefs.

    • I agree. We need to force churches to marry and serve gay people just like everybody else. They need to learn understanding and tolerance. If they don’t comply we need to throw them in jail!

  • No worries. McAuliffe will veto and these bigots won’t have the 2/3 majority needed for an override.

  • Government officials represent the government, bot their personal religious beliefs. Public accommodations are not people. They are state licensed entities designed to accommodate the general public. They do not have religious beliefs. The personal religious beliefs of the proprietor(s) have no relevance in regards to those who choose to solicit their goods/services.

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