Thursday, March 23, 2017

Virginia Governor Vetoes Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Breaking the record for most vetoes by a Virginia governor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has torpedoed two "religious freedom" bills passed by the Republican-led legislature.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

McAuliffe, a Democrat in the last year of his four-year term, vetoed the bills during a live radio appearance on Washington's WTOP, calling them "another attempt to "stigmatize" LGBT Virginians.

"You already have religious protection. Why would you push this bill out that does absolute nothing?," McAuliffe said. "All you're doing is trying to divide people. And I"m just not going to tolerate it."

The vetoes of House Bill 2025 and Senate Bill 1324 are McAuliffe's 90th and 91st, pushing McAliffe past the previous 90-veto record set by former Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore.

McAuliffe had already vetoed bills this year would legalize switchblades for some purposes, defund Planned Parenthood, allow homeschooled students to play on public-school sports teams, let military members under 21 apply for concealed handgun permits and add photo ID requirements for absentee ballots.

Democrats derided the two bills as anti-LGBT and discriminatory while Republicans framed the legislation as protecting "religious freedoms."

Language in the bills allowed individuals the right to refuse to participate in a same-sex marriage based on "sincerely held religious belief" or "moral conviction." This right already exists in the First Amendment.

Lacking veto-proof majorities, Republicans have not been able to override any of McAuliffe's 91 vetoes.

Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish issued a statement of support for the veto:

“Equality Virginia applauds Governor McAuliffe for fulfilling his promise to veto this discriminatory and destructive bill. We recognize that religion is a vital part of many Virginians’ daily lives, but HB 2025 does not protect religious liberty. Instead, it provides a license to discriminate against loving LGBTQ families; furthermore, 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.”

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