RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia legislative panel has killed a so-called “conscience clause” bill that would have allowed widespread discrimination against the LGBT community under the guise of religious freedom.
The measure, brought by career anti-gay lawmaker Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) — who co-authored the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage — would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against “homosexual behavior.”
The bill died Thursday in a House General Laws subcommittee after the five delegates sitting on the panel, all Republicans, unanimously voted to table the proposal.
Under the bill, a person would not be required to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” as a condition of “obtaining or renewing a government-issued license, registration, or certificate” if such actions would “violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior.”
Article continues belowClaire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director for the ACLU of Virginia, says Marshall’s bill would give “every individual, business, professional who gets any kind of license, registration, or certificate from the state, the locality, or any other agency or authority, board or department which would include every college and university” a license to discriminate.
Marshall said he was disappointed with the bill’s defeat: “[LGBT groups] want to compel a forced acceptance of behavior that for thousands of years people have found to be immoral and gravely harmful to the individual and common good,” said Marshall.
While the Richmond-based Christian group The Family Foundation was present for Thursday’s hearing, they did not speak in support of Marshall’s bill.
“I think that [The Family Foundation] wants to protect Republicans more than they want to protect the policy of protecting the family first,” said Marshall, who stated a continued interest in the bill saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try again.”