Thursday, March 31, 2016

Virginia Governor Vetoes "Religious Freedom" Bill As Discriminatory

As he had promised, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, yesterday vetoed Senate Bill 41 that protected clergy, religious and religiously affiliated organizations and their employees and volunteers acting in the scope of their employment from being required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage or from receiving adverse treatment of any kind by the state because the person acted on the basis of a sincere religious or moral belief that marriage should be only the union of one man and one woman. (See prior posting.) In his veto message (full text), McAuliffe described the bill as one that shields "those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples" from civil liability.  McAuliffe said in part:
Although couched as a “religious freedom” bill, this legislation is nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.  Any legitimate protections  ... are duplicative of the First Amendment ...; Article I, Section 11 of the Constitution of Virginia; and the Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  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.  Such a dynamic is not only unconstitutional, it equates to discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.
This legislation is also bad for business and creates roadblocks as we try to build the new Virginia economy.
Washington Times reports on the governor's action.