The Virginia statehouse is seeking to make prejudice lawful. There are two bills, moving in tandem through the Virginia House and Senate, that aim to protect individuals and businesses discriminating against same-sex couples.
If even one of these bills passes, the state will no longer be able to hold individual government employees accountable if they choose to discriminate against same-sex couples. Civil servants who wish to follow in the misguided footsteps of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis would be emboldened to deny government services to people based on their sexual orientation.
Additionally, the state will no longer be able to punish businesses for denying equal service to same-sex couples. When people choose to open businesses and participate in commerce, they agree to a host of legal regulations and government oversight, including a prohibition on discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation.
Also contact the House Committee on General Laws where SB 1324 now sits. Click here on "Message 2" to directly contact Chair Todd Gilbert and other committee members who might represent you and ask them to vote against SB 1324.
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(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the bill.)
These bills signal to LGBTQ people in Virginia that they are second-class citizens who will not benefit from the same legal protections as opposite-sex couples if they choose to get married.
While proponents of these bills have framed them as protecting the rights of individuals to hold religious beliefs or speak in opposition to same-sex marriage, the truth is that the beliefs and speech of bigots are already fully protected under the U.S. Constitution. But the right to free exercise of religion ends where the civil rights of others begin. These bills protect discriminatory actions under the guise of religious protections.
Both of these potentially disastrous bills have passed in the chamber in which they originated. Yesterday, HB 2025 passed the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology and will now move to a floor vote. Now is the time to act! Contact your state legislators today to voice your opposition to these bills.