Virginia Governor Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill Protecting Pastors, Faith-Based Groups

McAuliffe Credit Edward Kimmel-compressed
Photo Credit: Edward Kimmel

RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia has vetoed a religious freedom bill providing protections for pastors and non-profit faith-based organizations who believe in biblical marriage.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who had just vetoed a bill stripping the abortion giant Planned Parenthood of funding the day prior, announced Wednesday that he was also putting a stop to S.B. 41 surrounding religious freedom and marriage.

“We should be pursuing policies to make Virginia a more vibrant and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family,” he said in a statement. “Senate Bill 41 would accomplish the opposite by making Virginia unwelcome to same-sex couples, while artificially engendering a sense of fear and persecution among our religious communities. Accordingly, I veto this bill.”

“No person shall be required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage or subject to any penalty, any civil liability, or any other action by the Commonwealth, or its political subdivisions or representatives or agents, solely on account of such person’s belief, speech, or action in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman,” the bill reads in part.

It defines a person as “any religious organization, organization supervised or controlled by or operated in connection with a religious organization, individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of his paid or volunteer employment, successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing, or clergy member or minister.”

Bill sponsor, Sen. Charles Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, told reporters that the measure was crafted to provide protections to pastors and religious schools.

“It’s just a matter of time, I feel, before someone tries to sue the church,” he told the Washington Post. “I think you see a trend around the country right now to promote homosexual beliefs, and I think you see that trend happening on a wide-scale basis.”

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S.B. 41 passed the Senate in early February 20-19 and 59-38 in the House in early March.

Christian and family groups in the state are expressing disappointment over McAuliffe’s veto.

“Disagreement over the nature and purpose of marriage is not going to disappear simply because the Supreme Court created a mythological right to redefine marriage,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that Governor McAuliffe is so willing to discriminate against people of faith who simply disagree with the secular left’s sexual dogma.”

It is believed that there are insufficient votes to obtain a majority to override the veto.


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  • Slidellman4life

    “We should be pursuing policies to make Virginia a more vibrant and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family,” he said in a statement. “Senate Bill 41 would accomplish the opposite by making Virginia unwelcome to same-sex couples, while artificially engendering a sense of fear and persecution among our religious communities. Accordingly, I veto this bill.”

    What a load of bunk. Same-sex couples would still have been free to go to other churches and pastors within the state and get married. This is about Christian pastors wanting to decline as it violates their conscience and people saying they wish to force Christians to.

    • SFBruce

      Every church and every pastor in the state of Virginia still has the right to determine what kind of marriages they will honor and what kind they will not. The bill the governor vetoed went much further than that, and the governor was right to veto it.

      • Slidellman4life

        See my above comment.

        • SFBruce

          I have seen it, and I’m with Jalapeno here. I just don’t know of a single person or a single advocacy group that wants to force pastors and/or churches to solemnize same sex marriages. If you do have evidence that’s happening, present it.

    • Jalapeno

      Pastors can already refuse. They have protections for that, and there is absolutely no reason to think that those protections will go away.

      Obviously this isn’t a bill that was just saying “pastors can refuse to marry people”. Its expanding it to religious organizations..not just churches. It expands it to providing services to those marriages.

      • Slidellman4life

        Pastors can already refuse.

        But the LGBTQW crowd and their supporters do not want them to. That’s what all that opposition from Hollywood et al regarding Georgia was about. And I have had people tell me point blank they do not think pastors should be able to say no to same-sex couples at all.

        • Jalapeno

          Yeah..and I’ve had people tell me point blank that we should take away the marriage certificates of all the gay couples.

          Some people have extreme views..but most people understand that the protections for pastors have been in place for centuries, have been repeatedly validated by SCOTUS decisions and are in no risk of going anyplace.

          I literally do not know a single person, including a couple gay friends, including people who went out to protest for gay marriage, that think that a pastor should be forced to marry someone.

          You realize HB 757 wasn’t just about pastors either, right?

          • Slidellman4life

            I literally do not know a single person, including a couple gay friends, including people who went out to protest for gay marriage, that think that a pastor should be forced to marry someone.

            I literally do not believe you.

            You realize HB 757 wasn’t just about pastors either, right?

            Religious organizations were mentioned, too, I know, but you know what? I am also aware Catholic Charities in Chicago was forced to shut down as they were ordered to allow same-sex couples to adopt. So I do not understand why they should not be protected as well.

          • Jalapeno

            Wanting to force a pastor to marry someone is a pretty uncommon view. Most people are very happy to let them refuse to marry anyone for whatever reason. Heck, I had a church refuse to do my wedding because I was an atheist. No one cares, that’s their right.

            Religious organizations and churches are not the same thing. They do not receive the same protections.

            It’s a “you have to listen to the law unless otherwise noted”, not the other way around.

          • SFBruce

            Catholic Charities Chicago received 4 million tax dollars annually from the state of Illinois. Those Illinois taxpayers include hard working LGBT people who don’t rightly believe they shouldn’t have to directly fund organizations who discriminate against them.

        • BarkingDawg

          Any reality to support your allegations?

          • Slidellman4life

            Playing dumb gets you no points.

    • Tara

      I’ve been saying for a long time now that it’s going to get to the point that they will be forcing pastors to go against their beliefs. It won’t simply be a matter of going to another church or pastor, it will be just like with the cakes and the wedding venues that have been sued as of late. People say it won’t happen, but time will tell.

  • SSGT_Randolph

    Thank you, Gov. McAuliffe. Your veto of this license-to-discriminate bill represents a victory for all pro-freedom Virginians and upholds our cherished American values.

    • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

      I forget exactly when buggery and forcing the church’s approval of sin became cherished American values, so I’ll just have to take your word for it. Who needs freedom of association anyhow.

      • Paige Turner

        You didn’t forget. “Buggery” and sin have always been cherished American values. The word “Buggery” is Dickensian and redundant in 2016

      • SSGT_Randolph

        You might have a point. After all, everywhere we look we find churches boarded up and their pastors handcuffed and hauled off to who knows where. Shocking!

  • Weasel1886

    One of the many bottom-feeders in the Dimocratic pond.

  • John_33

    I know this can be frustrating for some, but this is good in a way. Every state needs to vote on this issue so everyone knows where they stand.

    • BarkingDawg

      Or sit, depending on how you like to use the toilet.

  • Gena B

    We know who he is really working for.