Virginia Senate passes bill to prohibit govt discrimination against natural marriage supporters
*Updated at 2:12 p.m. to include comment from the Family Foundation of Virginia's Victoria Cobb.
RICHMOND, Virginia, February 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Virginia senate approved a bill today that would prevent people from being forced to participate in "the solemnization of any marriage" and protect them from government discrimination for believing in man-woman marriage.
Senate Bill 1324, which passed 21-19, strengthens freedom of marriage supporters to live out their beliefs and prohibits the government from penalizing organizations opposed to same-sex "marriage." If it were to become law, non-profit organizations could not be denied grants or government funding solely because of their stance on marriage.
Last week, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a similar measure, House Bill 2025. If the Senate passes the House bill or vice versa, it will go to Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe's desk. He has pledged to veto it. McAuliffe is Catholic.
"This vote is a reasonable response to the unconstitutional act of intimidation and bullying of religious charities by Governor McAuliffe, charities that are operated by people of faith, from Christians to Jews to Muslims, that provide a vast array of services to vulnerable populations in Virginia," said Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation of Virginia. "The faith communities this bill applies to are doing enormous social good in Virginia, including aid to immigrants and refugees, the homeless, the hungry and the elderly. But the Governor has targeted these organizations for state-sponsored discrimination because they disagree with his view of marriage."
Religious charities should "not [be] targeted and punished by the government because of their beliefs about marriage," Cobb said.
Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual lobby group, called Senate passage of SB 1324 an "attack on fairness and equality in Virginia" that "is part of an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ bills" around the country.
The Virginia Catholic Conference called SB 1324 and HB 2025 "top-priority" legislation because it will "protect the right of religious organizations, including charities and schools, to follow the teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman without being penalized by state government."