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.”
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.
House subcommittee passes religious freedom bill that is response to Gov. McAuliffe's anti-faith, anti-freedom Executive Order 61!
— Family Foundation (@TFFVA) January 19, 2017
HB 2025 now goes to the Senate.