February 15, 2017 at 5:32 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. Senate committee approves religious freedom bill

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

A Virginia Senate committee on Feb. 13, 2017, approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate committee on Monday approved a religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee approved House Bill 2025 by an 8-7 vote margin.

State Sens. Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg County), Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester), Dick Black (R-Loudoun County), Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsvylvania County), William DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach), David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke), Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico County) and Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond) voted for HB 2025. State Sens. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), George Barker (D-Fairfax County), Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun County), Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County), Jeremy McPike (D-Prince William County) and Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg) voted against the measure.

State Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) introduced HB 2025.

The measure 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.

The Virginia House of Delegates on Feb. 2 approved HB 2025 by a 57-37 vote margin.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year vetoed a similar bill. The state Senate failed to override his veto.

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

  • A Republican introduced this bill and all those that voted for it are Republican. Notice all those that voted against the bill are Democrats! See the consistent pattern?

    Yet gay activists are told by GLBT conservatives despite this that we are too partisan and should vote for the GOP. Is putting people in office and thus in power that push legislation that hurts the LGBT community supposed to benefit us?

    The only protection GLBT Virginians have against such a bill is the Democratic Governor! If a Republican replaces him in the future, can you count on that support?

    While GOP Republicans have yet to push such a bill in Congress or vote on it, we know that Trump has promised to support one! What we aren’t seeing is Trump or the GOP pushing an Equality Act and even if one is introduced, it’s highly unlikely that Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell would allow a debate on one let alone a free up and down vote!

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