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Virginia Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Anti-LGBTQ “License to Discriminate” Bills

HRC praised Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of Senate Bill (SB 1324) and House Bill (HB) 2025 — discriminatory legislation seeking to give taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion.

“Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to solidify his place in history as a stalwart champion of fairness and equality,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “In truth, this vile legislation had nothing to do with protecting the right to practice one’s religion and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into state law. By vetoing this discriminatory legislation, Governor McAuliffe has sent a powerful and inclusive message that Virginia is welcoming and open for business to all. We urge the Virginia Legislature to uphold this decision.”  

SB 1324 and HB 2025 sought to allow taxpayer-funded organizations, like homeless shelters and adoption agencies, a special license to discriminate by refusing service to same-sex couples, transgender people, and anyone suspected of having intimate relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage (such as single mothers or a cohabiting straight couple) without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition. Governor McAuliffe also vetoed a similar discriminatory proposal in 2016.

Last summer, a Mississippi law with similar intentions — HB 1523 — was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves just before it would have gone into effect. That law, deceptively titled “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” enabled almost any individual or organization to discriminate against LGBTQ Mississippians at work, at school and in their communities. It remains pending at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The attack on fairness and equality in Virginia is part of an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in 2017 by activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking more than 115 anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals in 30 states. For more information, visit http://hrc.im/2017legislature.