Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Virginia Legislature Protects Mission of College Religious Groups

Last week the Virginia state legislature gave final approval to HB 1617 which provides:
To the extent allowed by state and federal law:
1. A religious or political student organization may determine that ordering the organization's internal affairs, selecting the organization's leaders and members, defining the organization's doctrines, and resolving the organization's disputes are in furtherance of the organization's religious or political mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities; and
2. No public institution of higher education that has granted recognition of and access to any student organization or group shall discriminate against any such student organization or group that exercises its rights pursuant to subdivision 1.
The bill has been sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his signature.  In an editorial yesterday, the Virginia Pilot called for the governor to veto the bill, saying: "The real reason for the bill is to allow certain religious or political groups to reject gay or lesbian students with the commonwealth's blessing."