Respect Equality

Religious freedom bill dies in Virginia Senate

Story at a glance

  • A Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday failed to advance a bill that LGBTQ+ advocates have said would have allowed LGBTQ+ discrimination.
  • The LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Virginia called the bill’s defeat “good news” stating that it would have “allowed religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ+ Virginians.”
  • There are currently more than 260 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being considered in state legislatures, including eight in Virginia.

A Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday failed to advance a bill that would excuse certain religious and religious-affiliated groups from adhering to state nondiscrimination laws.

Virginia law under the bill would have been amended to exempt “any place of accommodation owned by or operated on behalf of a religious corporation, association, or society from the nondiscrimination of accommodation provisions of the Virginia Human Rights Act,” according to a description of the bill.

Introduced in January by Rep. Les Adams (R), the bill had also argued that nothing in the Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits a religious or religious-affiliated organization “from taking any action to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.” It was passed by Virginia’s House of Delegates late last week.


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In a tweet, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Virginia called the bill’s defeat “good news” stating that it would have “allowed religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ+ Virginians.”

Rep. Adams last week in a blog post wrote that the bill had been drafted to “protect the religious liberty of Christian organizations and other faith groups.”

On Wednesday, before the bill was defeated in the state Senate, Adams wrote in another blog post that he believed the bill would pass through the Senate with “expected Republican support” and had “no doubt it will be signed by Governor Youngkin.”

There are more than 260 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being considered in state legislatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign, including eight in Virginia.

Virginia’s House of Delegates earlier this month defeated a measure that would have allowed voters to decide if the state should repeal language in its Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.


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