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April 17, 2020 (FRC) – While Virginia families were preoccupied with the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic and job loss, Governor Ralph Northam quietly signed into law a bill that forces public businesses and even private organizations to open women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and dressing rooms to men who claim that they are women. It is an official rejection of God’s purposeful design of male and female.
The new law prohibits “all places or businesses offering or holding out to the general public goods, services, privileges, facilities, advantages, or accommodations” from denying access based on “gender identity.” “Gender identity” is defined as “gender-related identity, appearance, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”
Two Democrats from Fairfax sponsored the bill: Delegate Marcus Simon and Senator Jennifer Boysko.
Christians, feminists, and all other conscientious objectors who believe in the science of biology can be punished for failing to follow this new law. The law makes no consideration for female athletes in Virginia, or for any women and girls who are not comfortable sharing intimate spaces with adult males. The Governor and his party have chosen sides, and they have chosen who the losers are. To the many women and girls who are sex abuse survivors, the message could not be clearer: We don’t care about you. Shut up and take it.
In a statement accompanying the signing, Northam said: “This legislation sends a strong, clear message—Virginia is a place where all people are welcome to live, work, visit, and raise a family.” But that’s not true at all. This law renders public schools, businesses, and organizations unwelcome to people unless they affirm an anti-Christian, anti-woman creed.
The law includes an extremely narrow exemption for private organizations that are “not in fact open to the public.” The exemption reads: “The provisions of this section shall not apply to a private club, a place of accommodation owned by or operated on behalf of a religious corporation, association, or society that is not in fact open to the public, or any other establishment that is not in fact open to the public.”
What does that mean for churches that invite the public to worship services? That offer free English language classes and meals to those in need? That perform sacred music in concerts open to the public? What does it mean for Christian schools that host competitive sports in their gymnasiums? Are these services, activities, and events not, in fact, open to the public under the language of this narrow exemption?
As former Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his concurring opinion in NIFLA v. Becerra, “[I]t is not forward thinking to force individuals to ‘be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] find unacceptable.’” This new law, which punishes people for not assenting to an anti-Christian, anti-woman view of the human person, is not forward-thinking. It is offensive to freedom and devastating to women.
And it happened in Virginia, of all places. The home of Thomas Jefferson’s Religious Freedom Act, the model for the first freedom in the Bill of Rights.
And it happened on Good Friday; the day Christians worldwide commemorate God’s willing sacrifice of His only Son as the ransom for our sins.
We must work and pray for an end to this unjust law.
Reprinted with permission from the Family Research Council.