Gov. McAuliffe vetoes bill that would have “legalized discrimination” against Virginia’s LGBTQ’s
Breaking: Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a bill which he said would legalize discrimination against same-sex couples in the Commonwealth.
“Although couched as a “religious freedom” bill, this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize,” said McAuliffe in a statement sent out following a live veto on the DC News radio station WTOP.
SB 41, sponsored by Sen. Carrico (R-40), aimed to stop the government from fining anyone who solemnizes a marriage or provides a services associated with weddings in a religious capacity if they denied the services to a same-sex couple because of their “sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”
“Any legitimate protections afforded by Senate Bill 41 are duplicative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;” wrote McAuliffe, who also pointed to Virginia’s long-held Religious Freedoms Act religious organizations like priests and churches are already allowed to deny services if it violates their beliefs.
“Any additional protections are styled in a manner that prefers one religious viewpoint—that marriage can only validly exist between a man and a woman—over all other viewpoints,” he said. “Such a dynamic is not only unconstitutional, it equates to discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.”
Activists groups are already celebrating the veto. The folks at Equality Virginia had been fighting Carrico’s bill since day one and applauded McAuliffe’s action today.
“Senator Carrico’s bill sought to blatantly and directly discriminate against gay and lesbian couples and families under the guise of religious freedom,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. ”We are thankful to have a governor opposing this and working to make Virginia more open and welcoming for everyone, not less.”
According to EV, SB 41 was one of nine discriminatory bills filed during Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly targeting LGBTQ. Parrish noted it was the most he’s seen since he’s been involved in LGBTQ issues, and called the attacks “unprecedented.”
“While we are happy that SB 41 will not become law, the General Assembly’s votes against fairness and non-discrimination make it clear that our work is far from over,” said Parrish. “The majority of Virginians believe in fairness and equality, and it is discouraging to see so many of our legislators unwilling to stand with them for what is right by passing discriminatory legislation.”
McAuliffe went on to stress his belief that equality is “good for business,” saying this legislation would have created roadblocks “as we try to build the new Virginia economy.”
“Businesses and job creators do not want to locate or do business in states that appear more concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate,” he said. “Legislation that immunizes the discriminatory actions of certain people and institutions at the expense of same-sex couples would damage Virginia’s reputation for commonsense, pro-business government. We need only look at the damage these types of laws are doing in other states to understand the harm this bill could bring to our Commonwealth and its economy.”
This marks the end of any relevant LGBTQ-specific legislation for the 2016 session. Nothing changed, for better or worse, with protections for LGBTQs and steps to discriminate or stigmatize the same group either failing in committees or in full floor votes. SB41 was the only bill to require a veto by the Governor.
Despite the bill’s outcome, Governor Terry McAuliffe has promised to veto any legislation that he feels is discriminatory.February 17, 2017
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