U.S./World: ACLU — Bill would create ‘Jim Crow’-era laws for LGBT Virginians

Beyond the Carolinas

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia lawmaker who co-authored the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that was struck down last year, is introducing new legislation that would allow widespread discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The bill, authored by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas, Va.), states a person would not be required to “perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action” as a condition of “obtaining or renewing a government-issued license, registration, or certificate” if such actions would “violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior.”

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director for the ACLU of Virginia, says Marshall’s bill would give “every individual, business, professional who gets any kind of license, registration, or certificate from the state, the locality, or any other agency or authority, board or department which would include every college and university” a license to discriminate.

“It’s licensing it [discrimination], authorizing it, and saying it’s okay.” said Guthrie Gastañaga. “It’s like Jim Crow. It’s like a state law that says it’s okay to discriminate against black people and have two different kinds of water fountains.”

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Greg Nevins, Lambda Legal Counsel who fought Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage last year, said the bill is so broadly written that it would allow a doctor to refuse to prescribe HIV medication to a gay man, or a therapist to refuse counseling to an individual in a same-sex relationship.

“This legislation threatens the mental and physical health of Virginia residents, is horrible policy, and is unconstitutional.” said Nevins.

He called the bill “unethical, abusive and dangerous.”

Marshall is the General Assembly’s most outspoken social conservative. In addition to co-authoring the marriage ban that was struck down by a federal judge last year, Marshall has staunchly opposed any attempts to expand LGBT equality related bills in the General Assembly.

With a Republican-dominated House and Senate, the bill could pass both legislative bodies, but Del. Mark Sickles, Virginia’s only openly gay member of the House of Delegates, said he believes Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe would veto the measure.

“After all Governor McAuliffe has done to reposition the Commonwealth as a welcoming state for business, this is the very last thing we need in our effort to diversify our economy,” Sickles said in a statement. : :

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— Victoria Zawitkowski, GayRVA.com, via LGBTQ Nation (lgbtqnation.com), qnotes media partners.

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