Saturday, March 12, 2016

Virginia Legislature Passes Bill To Protect Clergy and Religious Groups That Object To Same-Sex Marriage; Governor Threatens Veto

Yesterday the Virginia General Assembly gave final passage to S.41 (full text) that protects 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. As reported by the Washington Blaze, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said he would veto the bill.  It should be noted that the language of the bill requires careful reading to avoid misinterpreting it as being broader than it is.  Section B. of the bill applies its protection to any "person," but that is limited by the narrow definition of "person" in Section A. The president of the Family Foundation of Virginia accurately, albeit not totally objectively, described the scope of the bill:
This legislation balances the recently discovered right to whatever definition of marriage you want with our nation’s longstanding principle of religious free exercise by ensuring that the heavy hand of government cannot penalize clergy or religious charities simply because of beliefs about marriage.