Friday, March 04, 2016

Virginia GOP Continues to Push for Special Rights for Christian Extremists

Mistress of hate: Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation 
With falsely named "religious freedom" bills being defeated or vetoed in a number of states and businesses threatening to leave states where they have been enacted, the Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly, especially the House of Delegates, continue to demonstrate that they are total shameless whores to anti-gay hate groups, especially The Family Foundation ("TFF").   While Governor McAuliffe has said that he will veto  any such bill that targets gays and grants special rights to Christofascists, the members of the GOP seem undeterred in striving to please their theocratic masters at TFF.  The Washington Post looks at  the continued GOP self-prostitution.  Here are excerpts:
Lawmakers in Virginia on Thursday reworked and advanced legislation that would prohibit the government from punishing religious organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples.
The bill is a more narrowly focused version of one that made waves last month after a gay delegate from Fairfax implored his colleagues in an emotional floor speech to consider the sweep of history and act with fairness. The measure passed the House anyway, but it hit a roadblock in the usually more moderate Senate.
Now lawmakers are back with a bill that the House sponsor, Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), said is an effort to craft a compromise while protecting the religious freedom of people who feel under attack by shifting cultural attitudes.
Gay rights activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said the bill still amounts to a license to discriminate and would not pass constitutional muster.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has said he would veto bills that seek to erode gay rights.
Although lawmakers could not cite any examples of discrimination against those with religious objections to same-sex marriage, advocates for the bill said it’s a preemptive strike against the potential for that to happen in the future.
Claire Guthrie Gasta├▒aga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said the free exercise of religious beliefs is already protected under the First Amendment, Virginia’s statute for religious freedom and the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
However, she said, the bill seeks to elevate one type of religious belief above all others.
“It’s unconstitutional on its face, in reference to only giving special privileges to people who have a certain belief which is a belief about marriage,” she said. “It’s unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. The government can’t do that.”
Previously, the bill protected discrimination against not just gay married couples, but also transgender people and anyone straight or gay who has sex outside marriage.
In another change, the earlier version applied to a long list of entities with sincerely held religious beliefs, including individuals, private companies and trusts. Now it says only clergy, religious organizations and anyone affiliated with those organizations can discriminate without fear of penalty, such as losing tax benefits, grants, contracts, loans, scholarships, certification, accreditation or jobs.

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