Thursday, March 30, 2023

McAuliffe Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed a bill that critics contend would have allowed discrimination against same-sex couples.

Senate Bill 1324, which state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) introduced, would not require any person or religious institution to “participate in the solemnization of any marriage” that 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 would also prohibit state officials from punishing people and organizations that refuse to take part in a gay or lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.

State Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) introduced an identical bill in the Virginia House of Delegates.

“This is another piece of legislation that is discriminatory,” said McAuliffe after he announced his plan to veto SB 1324. “We’re not going to do it.”

McAuliffe also noted North Carolina’s House Bill 2 — which bans transgender people from using public restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity and prohibits municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures — and the economic impact it has had on the Tarheel State.

McAuliffe vetoed SB 1324 less than two weeks before he is scheduled to speak at Equality Virginia’s annual Commonwealth Dinner in Richmond.

“Equality Virginia applauds Governor McAuliffe for fulfilling his promise to veto this discriminatory and destructive bill,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish in a statement.

“We recognize that religion is a vital part of many Virginians’ daily lives, but HB 2025 does not protect religious liberty,” he added. “Instead, it provides a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families; 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.”

The Virginia Senate in 2016 failed to override McAuliffe’s veto of a similar bill.

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