Carrico said same-sex marriage was his specific target on for this bill, and his district’s proximity to states like North Carolina and Kentucky, where action has been taken to allow court clerks to deny marriage licenses, was part of his inspiration.
As for possible controversy which could come from this legislation, Carrico said he wasn’t concerned with pushback from the public or the media.
“I firmly believe marriage is between one man and and one woman. I don’t consult other legislators or outside groups,” he said. “I represent my people… I didn’t come to Richmond to be politically correct.”
As for the second bill, SB 41, which protects individuals who perform marriages from having to performer services against their religious beliefs, Carrico said he knows Virginia’s current religious freedom’s constitutional amendment already gives these protections.
“Its something to comfort our ministers so they don’t have to be concerned over backlashes,” he said, admitting the bill was a bit redundant, but enforced his and his constituents concerns.
Carrico said he didn’t consult or work with any other legislators on these bills, but he acknowledged Virginia House Majority Leader Howell’s call over the summer for more religious freedom bills during the 2016 GA session.
The senator said he believed his religious freedoms bill would not be the only one seen in the next few weeks.
Equality Virginia’s Executive Director James Parrish has cried fowl on Carrico’s bills, saying legislation using the term “religious freedom” are often “a license to discriminate.”
“It is the duty of the clerks of court to issue marriage licenses and that is a tax-payer funded function of their job and they should be issuing licenses to everyone who qualifies,” Parrish said.
While his argument against Carrico’s first bill seems clear enough, the broad nature of the second bill, and the protections already offered by the religious freedom amendment, is what concerned EV.
“Religious leaders and churches are not required to marry same-sex couples, but the problem with this bill is it broadly goes into what a religious organization is,” he said. “Is it a Baptist church? Or does that mean religious businesses open to the public? We’re not sure what he means by a religious institution. Our line is ‘any business that is open to the public is open to all the public’ and there’s not place for discrimination.”
“Religious freedom” laws like this have been condemned by groups like the ACLU who have, in the past, called them discriminatory.