US: Virginia anti-gay bill would permit discrimination against gays

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Virginia Republican has introduced a state bill that would give people the right to openly discriminate against people over “homosexual behaviour”.

Republican delegate Bob Marshall – who previously co-authored the state’s now-defunct constitutional ban on same-sex marriage – introduced the legislation this week.

The proposed law, HB 1414, asserts 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 behaviour.”

The bill would effectively allow any person acting in any licensed capacity the right to explicitly discriminate against gay people – no matter what the consequences.

Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal – who previously fought against the marriage ban – warned the far-reaching law could even allow doctors to refuse to treat gay patients.

He said it “threatens the mental and physical health of Virginia residents, is horrible policy, and is unconstitutional.”

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia told Gayrva: “It’s licensing it [discrimination], authorizing it, and saying it’s okay.

“It’s like [racial segregation laws] 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.”