Thursday, December 17, 2015

McAuliffe Promises to Veto Bogus GOP "Religious Freedom" Bills

Gov. McAuliffe (L) and Sen. Carrico (R)
As predicted, the Virginia Republicans are using the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage ruling as a pretense to introduce bills in the 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly that would give special rights to right wing Christians and allow them to ignore existing non-discrimination laws.  The Bill SB 40, filed by GOP state Senator  Charles W. Carrico, Sr. from Galax, would allow Circuit Court Clerks and deputy Clerk's  to  to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples on "ethical, moral, or religious grounds."  Despite refusing to do their jobs, they would draw their full salaries,  More insanely, the bill would require a process be established where same sex marriage licenses could be obtained at Department of Motor Vehicle offices. 

The second Bill, SB 41 is much broader in scope and would grant special rights to any number of parties:
". . . . no individual authorized to solemnize any marriage shall be required to do so and no religious organization shall be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization of any marriage if the action would cause the individual or organization to violate a sincerely held religious belief. . . . ."

In short, right wing Christians would be placed above the laws that bind the rest of society and could refuse hotel accommodations, services, flowers, baked gods, etc., etc., based ultimately on anti-gay animus.   If it is any comfort, gays are not Carrico's only target.  He has also introduced a bill, SB 45, that would bring back Confederate flag license plates to the Commonwealth.   GayRVA looks at Carrico's bogus "religious freedom" bills and Governor McAuliffe's promised veto.  Here are highlights:

In an email sent to GayRVA, a spokesperson for Governor Terry McAuliffe said he would veto two new bills aiming to expand religious freedoms in Virginia.

“Governor McAuliffe believes legislation like this would send the wrong message to people around the globe about the climate Virginia offers businesses and families who may want to locate here,” said Irma Palmer, spokesperson for Governor McAuliffe, about the two bills, submitted by Senator Carrico, mentioned below which aim to make it harder for same-sex couples to marry.

McAuliffe has long said LGBTQ equality is key for the Commonwealth to grow its business markets. Palmer said the Governor supports same-sex marriage and believes “we need to be working to make Virginia more open and welcoming to everyone, not less. Accordingly, he would veto these bills if they pass.”

In an interview with GayRVA, Carrico said the two bills weren’t asked for by any court clerks or state employees, but the call for action on this issue came from his constituents who he said voted firmly in 2006 to support Virginia’s now debunked ban on same-sex marriage.

“I have 200,000 constituents that a vast majority supported marriage as between one man and and one woman,” he said. “They elected me to represent their values and their beliefs and that’s what I’m representing.”

Carrico said same-sex marriage was his specific target on for this bill, and his district’s proximity to states like North Carolina and Kentucky, where action has been taken to allow court clerks to deny marriage licenses, was part of his inspiration.
Carrico claims the backing for the bills came from his constituents, but I suspect the real push came from the hate merchants and parasites at The Family Foundation.  But, in the remote chance Carrico, is correctly blaming the bills on his constituents, it is worthwhile to look at Carrico's district.  It is located in far Southwest Virginia, the economic and cultural basket case of the Commonwealth of Virginia.   From data I located, 27.97% of the households in Gala make less than $15,000 per year versus 12.61% of American households nationally.  56.35% percent of the households in Galax make $30,000 or less per year versus 28.51 percent of American households nationally.   In short, the area is an economically depressed backwater that desperately needs new, progressive businesses to relocate to the area.  However, due to the region's bigotry and backwardness, that is not likely to happen.  Bigotry does indeed have a price.  It's a message that Carrico and his constituents need to grasp. 

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