Lawmakers approved House Bill 2025 by a 54-38 vote margin.
HB 2025 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.” The measure that state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) introduced would also prohibit Virginia officials from punishing those who refuse to take part in a gay or lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.
“Today is a sad day for the people of Virginia,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement. “Instead of working to find solutions to the real problems we face as a state, our lawmakers are pushing shameful legislation providing a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families.”
The Human Rights Campaign described HB 2025 as a “dangerous anti-LGBTQ proposal.”
“Let’s be clear, HB 2025 is nothing more than a thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Virginians and visitors to the state,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “The measure has nothing to do with the right to practice one’s religion — which is already firmly protected in the U.S. Constitution — and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into law.”
Both Winterhof and Parrish noted the economic impact that North Carolina’s House Bill 2 — which bans transgender people from using public bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity and prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures — in their criticism of HB 2025.
“We don’t want to be the next North Carolina,” said Parrish.
The Virginia Senate last year failed to override Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s veto of a similar religious freedom bill.
McAuliffe has said he would also veto HB 2015 if it were to reach his desk.
We applaud Gov. McAuliffe’s promise to veto HB 2025 which will send a clear message that this legislation does not represent the values we hold dear as Virginians,” said Parrish.