Delegate Bob Marshall, the notoriously anti-gay legislator from Manassas has apparently recovered from his apoplectic fit he threw when the court struck down his beloved anti-marriage equality amendment. For the 2015 session he has introduced HB1414. This little piece of work seeks to exempt state employees or officials from having to help gay citizens.
Here’s the text:
Provides that a person shall not be required to perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action or refrain from performing, assisting, consenting to, or participating in any action as a condition of obtaining or renewing a government-issued license, registration, or certificate where such condition would violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex marriage or homosexual behavior.
He has the gall to call it a “conscience clause”. The irony is that the judge who struck down his anti-marriage amendment cited an animus on the part of the state to its LGBT citizens. I guess animus never goes out of fashion.
Even if there were a legitimate religious reason for having such a law (and the legitimacy of any such reason is up for healthy debate), freedom of religion is only one of the freedoms that we enjoy in America. It is just one among many and must be balanced against the other freedoms we enjoy.
However, even bothering to have that debate gives Marshall more legitimacy than he deserves. This bill is state-sponsored discrimination, pure and simple. To call it anything else is to miss that Marshall is using religion to attack a group of people simply because he doesn’t like them. It is more than past time for Virginia to be done with this nonsense.
I urge everyone in Virginia to write to your state delegates and senators to urge them to vote against this bill.