The Virginia House of Delegates passed a “license to discriminate” bill Thursday by a 57-37 vote.
House Bill 2025 would prohibit the government from any unfavorable treatment of any individual or organization affiliated with a religion that acts on “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”
The bill is a response to an executive order signed by Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe that banned anti-LGBT discrimination among state employees and contractors. The state does not have any laws banning anti-LGBT discrimination among private employers.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Delegate Nicholas Freitas, cited Catholic organizations that partner with the state to help settle refugees as possibly being affected by the executive order. “This governor crossed a line. And we have to defend those religious organizations.”
The bill is expected to be vetoed by the governor.
Equality Virginia executive director James Parrish said, “Its broad and vague definition of ‘person’ would set a dangerous precedent for discriminatory individuals and groups to be protected by our religious freedom laws.”