Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed legislation that would have allowed discrimination against LGBTQ people on religious freedom grounds.
“Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to solidify his place in history as a stalwart champion of fairness and equality,” said JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign 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. 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, 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.