Friday, April 22, 2016

Virginia Senate Fails to Override Veto Of "Religious Freedom" Bill

One of the main things currently protecting Virginia from the Republican/Christofascist extremism taking place next door in North Carolina is Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe who vetoed the falsely names "religious freedom" bill that cleared the Virginia General Assembly.  This week, the Virginia Senate failed to override McAuliffe's veto which means true religious freedom - as opposed to special rights for Christian extremists - is safe until next year.  GayRVA looks at this important vote.  Here are highlights:
Yesterday’s veto session stretched late into the night, but the only LGBTQ-related bill which made it to the Governor’s desk stayed on the floor as the Senate failed to override McAuliffe’s veto.
SB 41, sponsored by Sen. Carrico (top image, left), aimed to “Provides that no person shall be (i) required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage or (ii) subject to any penalty, any civil liability, or any other action by the Commonwealth, or its political subdivisions or representatives or agents, solely on account of such person’s belief, speech, or action in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the bill based on these fears, as well as how the bill could be received by businesses or people hoping to visit the state.
“Any legitimate protections afforded by Senate Bill 41 are duplicative of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;” wrote McAuliffe in a statement sent out after vetoing the bill in late March. He also pointed to Virginia’s long-held Religious Freedoms Act which already allows religious leaders and orgs like priests and churches to deny services if it violates their beliefs.
“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,” he said. “Such a dynamic is not only unconstitutional, it equates to discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.”
But yesterday, Sen. Carrico sought to defend his bill stressing it would “strengthen [those]  protections and protect them from any charges if some were too arise.” . . . . Carrico found few vocal allies on the Senate floor yesterday, however Sen. Adam Ebbin (top image, middle), Virginia’s only openly gay Senator, spoke in opposition to the measure, echoing Gov. McAuliffe’s concerns.
“This bill would provide a license to discriminate against same-sex couples and their families and could be seen to allow discrimination by schools or hospitals that are religiously affiliated,” Ebbin said, noting the bill offers protections to those who don’t believe in or support same-sex marriage, but does little for fans of marriage equality.
“It offers no protections for the law of the land, for marriage equality,” he said. “Similar legislation has been bad for business in other state and I would contend that passing this bill would be bad for business in Virginia.”
Unfortunately, hate groups such as The Family Foundation - a theocratic loving organization with strong white supremacist undercurrents - will continue to push for special rights and the subversion of religious freedom for all Virginians.  The goal remains to make Christian extremists so politically and socially toxic that the Virginia GOP will be forced to cease its self-prostitution to these hate mongers.  

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