Virginia Religious Freedom Bill (SB 41)
This law was last updated on Jan 2, 2019
SB 41, as introduced, would allow government officials who are authorized to perform marriages to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
The bill states that no person shall be required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage. It goes on to prohibit a person from being subject to any penalty, any civil liability, or any other action by the Commonwealth, solely on account of such person’s belief, speech, or action in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.
The bill defines “person” to mean any (i) religious organization, (ii) organization supervised or controlled by or operated in connection with a religious organization, (iii) individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of his paid or volunteer employment, (iv) successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing, or (v) clergy member or minister.
Ministers in the state of Virginia already have the right to refuse to marry a couple based on their religious beliefs under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The bill was amended to remove language that would have allowed government officials to refuse to provide solemnization services.
Passed by the House and Senate on March 11, 2016. Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the bill on March 30, 2016.