House Bills Vetoed by the Governor
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An Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section
numbered 57-2.03, relating to religious freedom; marriage solemnization,
participation, and beliefs.
02/23/17 House: Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB2025ER)
02/01/17 House: Printed as engrossed 17102190D-E
01/10/17 House: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17102190D
Patrons--Freitas, Bell, Richard P., Cole, Edmunds, Fariss, LaRock,
Marshall, R.G., Ransone, Wilt and Wright
Passed the House of Delegates
February 2, 2017
Senate amendments agreed to by House
February 20, 2017
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of
Virginia, I veto House Bill 2025, which would shield from civil liability those
who actively discriminate against same-sex couples. I vetoed this exact same
bill last year, and my rationale for that veto remains the same.
Although couched as a "religious freedom" bill, this
legislation is nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize. Any legitimate
protections afforded by House Bill 2025 are duplicative of the first Amendment
to the Constitution of the United States; Article I, Section 11 of the
Constitution of Virginia; and the Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Any additional protections are styled in a manner that prefers one religious
viewpoint—that marriage can only validly exist between a man and a woman—over
all other viewpoints. Such a dynamic is not only unconstitutional, it equates
to discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.
This legislation is also bad for business and creates
roadblocks as we try to build the new Virginia economy. Businesses and job
creators do not want to locate or do business in states that appear more
concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate.
Legislation that immunizes the discriminatory actions of certain people and
institutions at the expense of same-sex couples would damage Virginia's
reputation for commonsense, pro-business government. We need only look at the
damage these types of laws are doing in other states to understand the harm
this bill could bring to our Commonwealth and its economy.
We should be pursuing policies to make Virginia a more vibrant
and welcoming place to live, work, and raise a family. House Bill 2025 would
accomplish the opposite by making Virginia unwelcome to same-sex couples, while
artificially engendering a sense of fear and persecution among our religious
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
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