RICHMOND, Va. – By killing an amendment that would have stripped discriminatory language from Virginia’s Constitution and advancing a bill that reaffirmed the right of religious officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples, Virginia House Republicans this week sent the message that Virginia is not open for business.
The Republican-controlled House of Delegates today advanced HB 2025, which reiterates the already constitutionally-protected right of religious officials to refuse to solemnize any marriage.
Earlier this week, the Privileges and Elections Constitutional Subcommittee killed HJ 538, which would have repealed Virginia’s now mute constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Though the bill was an unrecorded voice vote, footage from Progress Virginia shows that Del. Jackson Miller made the motion to kill the legislation.
“Virginia Democrats are focused on jobs; Virginia Republicans are focused on marginalizing women and the LGBT community,” said House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano. “House Republicans have killed Democratic bills that would have raised the minimum wage, established paid family leave, and allowed borrowers to refinance high-interest student loans. Meanwhile, they refused to remove discriminatory language from our constitution and instead advanced an empty bill that reaffirms an already constitutionally-protected right. The Republicans’ anti-LGBT agenda sends a clear message to the rest of the nation that Virginia is not open for business.”
“North Carolina’s bathroom bill cost their economy at least $630 million dollars,” said Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “Minutes after Virginia’s version of that bill was rightfully killed, Republicans also killed a bill that would have protected the LGBT community from employment discrimination. As a result, you can still be fired in Virginia simply for being gay. Discrimination impedes our ability to attract business and tourism to the Commonwealth. For our economy to thrive, we must send a resounding message to tourists and companies that Virginia does not discriminate.”
“The Privileges and Elections, Constitutional Subcommittee, without explanation, decided to indefinitely enshrine the opinions of Virginians who voted in 2006 to ratify a Virginia constitutional amendment that has since been ruled unconstitutional,” said Del. Mark Sickles, referring to his proposed amendment to repeal the language in Virginia’s constitution that bars same-sex marriage. “Over the past 11 years, the public has reassessed their views as the issue has literally come home for friends and family of the LGBT community. Many Virginians have realized they were on the wrong side of history. Marriage equality is the ‘law of the land’ and our voters deserve the right to clear our constitution of harsh and harmful exclusionary language. The voters of 2006 should not obstruct progress and determine in perpetuity the definition of civil marriage—and neither should this subcommittee.”
[From a News Release]