Virginia Republicans pass “nondiscrimination” bill that specifically protects anti-LGBT discrimination

This morning, Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 773, the Government Nondiscrimination Act, which specifically “prohibits a government entity from taking any discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman and that the terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics of the individual at the time of birth.”

As the bill’s summary continues:

Religion and LGBT equality, via Wikimedia Commons

Religion and LGBT equality, via Wikimedia Commons

For purposes of the Act, discriminatory actions include actions that adversely affect the tax treatment of a person or that withhold or otherwise make unavailable any (i) grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification, accreditation, or employment; (ii) entitlement or benefit under a benefit program; or (iii) entitlement to utilize state property. The Act also provides that a person shall be considered to be validly accredited, licensed, or certified for any purpose under state law if such person would otherwise have been accredited, licensed, or certified but for a determination based upon such person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.

In other words, according to this bill, enforcing non-discrimination protections that apply to LGBT people is itself discrimination, so long as the discriminating party can claim that Jesus made them do it. This would make it impossible for Virginia to tie public funds — including government contracts — to non-discrimination clauses that include protections for LGBT people.

As is the case with a similar bill being considered in Georgia, Virginia’s Government Nondiscrimination Act does not protect religious freedom in any sort of broad sense. Instead, it is narrowly tailored to protect a small sampling of religious beliefs held by one ideological subset of one religious tradition.

Once again, that isn’t religious freedom. It’s simply Christian privilege. No amount of Orwellian bill-titling can change that.

At least in Virginia, which has a Democratic governor, the bill has almost no chance of becoming law.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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10 Responses to “Virginia Republicans pass “nondiscrimination” bill that specifically protects anti-LGBT discrimination”

  1. Butch1 says:

    It won’t take long for someone to challenge this one.

  2. TellMeImDreaming says:

    Republicans are liars and cheats. All the honorable ones retired.

  3. Cackalaquiano says:

    Oh come now, not when there’s a conservative God out there telling some they need to proselytize and impose a holy order on everyone in society. And your asking them to mind their own business infringes on religious liberty.

  4. Cackalaquiano says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but the point of these bills is to allow a private business owner to refuse service to gay people. It goes against the idea that if you’re open to the public, you serve the public, period.
    In your example, other laws would kick in regarding murder, etc. But with religious freedom bills, could a Mormon cashier refuse to ring up your coffee? Could an Adventist or Jewish waiter refuse your order for a hotdog? How far do we, as a society, go to cater to specific religious beliefs? The courts will certainly have to weigh in, but I think examining any of these rules through the lens of “does it unnecessarily burden one specific group” would wipe out a lot of this nonsense. Otherwise, our society’s going to twist itself into knots trying to make sure we’re accommodating all religious proclivities, and we can’t say any other religious accommodations aren’t valid. New religions can crop up just to emphasize this point – think about the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Church of Satan (that’s really not about Satan). Why couldn’t LGBTs form their own religion, with a specific text and creed and deities and requirements?

  5. Butch1 says:

    Then there are many of us atheists who do not believe in invisible sky faeries and organized religious nonsense. We shouldn’t have to worry about these religious fools coming up with something new every week to discriminate against us. We need one tough law in place that will stop them for good and put them in prison when they try this.

  6. Butch1 says:

    These anti-gay bigots will never give up.

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  8. Tim H. says:

    I totally support the LBGT community and it is MY strongly held religious belief that Jesus never said one damned word about homosexuality or gay marriage. However, from what I can tell from the editorial, (and there certainly could be parts of the bill that weren’t reprinted here that make a difference) The bill just says that the State cannot act against a person just because he/she is a bigoted asshole, with one glaring exception which I’ll get to in a moment. This is as it should be in a free nation. The government MUST not be allowed to revoke a persons drivers lisc. or Medical lisc. or contractors lisc., take away their state pension or refuse to do business with people because they have beliefs that are intolerant. They can say and believe whatever they want. Here’s where we get to the glaring exception, the bill says that they can: “act in accordance with sincerely held religious beliefs”…blah blah blah. Does this mean a devout Orthodox Jew can go out and kill gay people like it says to in the Old Testament or Wiccans, can you stone witches to death as the Bible demands? Unless the bill explicitly says you can’t break another law while acting on your D.H.R.B.’s they seem to have given Carte Blanche to a lot of vicious, ignorant people to do some seriously evil shit.

  9. BeccaM says:

    At least in Virginia, which has a Democratic governor, the bill has almost no chance of becoming law.

    This is precisely why state-level races matter and why I want to hear either of the Democratic presidential candidates explain their plan for winning more of these essential state-level elected offices. It’s also why I want to see Wasserman-Schultz fired as head of the DNC and replaced with either Howard Dean or someone else who understands the essential importance of a 50-state strategy.

  10. Perley J. Thibodeau says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone minded their own business?

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