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Va. Senate OKs House version of bill that allows discrimination in college clubs

Va. Senate OKs House version of bill that allows discrimination in college clubs

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia House measure that would allow student clubs at Virginia’s public colleges and universities to discriminate in their policies and membership was passed the state Senate Monday on a 21-18 vote.

Virginia state capitol in Richmond.

HB1617 had passed the House of Delegates on January 31 in a 80-19 vote. A Senate version of the bill (SB 1074) is currently before a House committee, and is expected to receive a full vote by the House within the next week.

Both versions would then be bundled together and sent to Republican Governor Bob McDonnell for his signature.

The bill permits religious or political student organizations to exclude from membership anyone not “committed to the organization’s mission.”

The bill would also prohibits public universities from punishing clubs that have rejected potential members, potentially invalidating non-discrimination policies already in place in many state colleges and universities.

“Under this bill, student groups benefiting from our taxpayer dollars can deny membership to students for any reason, from religion to sexual orientation, said state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Virginia’s only openly gay lawmaker.

Tucker Martin, the Governor’s spokesperson, declined to speculate on whether McDonnell would sign the bill.

Update, 3/22/2013: Gov. Bob McDonnell has approved the measure; the law takes effect July 1, 2013.

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