|Del. C. Todd Gilbert|
For years Delegate Bob Marshall has been an embarrassment to the Commonwealth of Virginia and brought negative national and international news coverage to Virginia. This session of the Virginia General Assembly there is apparently a contest among Virginia Republicans in the General Assembly to see who can propose the most anti-LGBT legislation and at the same time offer the most special rights to far right Christians - whom I refer to as Christofascists. GOP Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (who represents a backwater district in the Shenandoah Valley) seemingly is trying hard to outdo Bob Marshall in lunacy and anti-gay animus by introducing HB 773 which proposes the utterly ridiculously named "Government Nondiscrimination Act" which would allow "sincerely held religious belief" to be invoked to ignore any LGBT non-discrimination law that one did not like.
In addition, the HB 773 would (i) undercut all pro-Transgender legislation and policies by focusing on what is between one's legs at birth, (ii) bar the revocation of licenses by licensing authorities, if a party's failure to comply with ethical and licensing requirements was based on religious belief or moral conviction," and (iii) eliminate the typical requirement that one must exhaust applicable administrative appeals processes before filing a lawsuit. This latter provision would seemingly allow therapists and clinicians to engage in witch doctor like practices - e.g., ex-gay "cure" or reparative therapy practices - condemned by state licensing authorities so long as they could claim that they were acting in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Here are some excerpts from Gilbert's bill that is nothing more than a license to discriminate law masquerading as a law to protect religious freedom:
§ 57-2.3. Protection of the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions.
A. Notwithstanding any other statute, regulation, or administrative order to the contrary, a government entity shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, in whole or in part, on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that (i) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman and (ii) the male sex and the term "man" and the female sex and the term "woman" refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics of the individual at the time of birth.
C. Any person that would otherwise be accredited, licensed, or certified for any purpose under state law but for a determination against such person, in whole or in part, on the basis that the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction set forth in subsection A shall be considered to be validly accredited, licensed, or certified in the Commonwealth.
§ 57-2.4. Judicial relief.
A. A person may assert a violation of this chapter as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other appropriate relief. A person that prevails in any proceeding to enforce a provision of this chapter in any proceeding against a government entity, excluding criminal prosecutions, shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs.
In the past religious belief has NEVER been utilized to gran complete exemptions from compliance with generally applicable non-discrimination laws. Now, with the Republican Party having become a sectarian party that has nothing but contempt for religious freedom except when invoked by the party's Christofascist base, Gilbert's bill is disgusting and shows how far the GOP is willing to prostitute itself to religious extremism that are as motivated by hate almost as much the Islamic extremists that the GOP so loudly condemns. The only good news is that Gov. Terry McAuliffe would veto the bill if it manages to pass the General Assembly.
Personally, my contempt for the Republican Party of Virginia continues to grow as does my revulsion for the self-anointed "godly folk."