Only a day after Governor Terry McAuliffe visited The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood in Richmond to veto a bill that would have directed state tax dollars away from the scandal-ridden abortion giant, the Governor was back for round two of “Vetoes and Politics.” This time, he took aim at pastors, churches and religiously-based charities and schools.
Last week, Governor McAuliffe had something of another “veto ceremony” appearing live on WTOP radio to publicly veto HB 41, a bill which sought to prevent the state government from penalizing or otherwise denying benefits to religious organizations including churches, schools and charities simply because they held a traditional view of marriage. It also would have clarified that no pastor of religious entity could be required to participate in a wedding ceremony that violated their deeply-held religious beliefs.
Perhaps most alarming was not the veto itself or even the Governor’s bold public repudiation of a bill that would have simply guaranteed the right of conscience for faith-based institutions concerning a millennia-old belief. That was outrageous, to be sure. But the most disconcerting part was the harshness of his rhetoric towards people of faith. The avowed Catholic Governor was definitely not projecting the spirit of Christian charity for his Catholic brethren in this moment.
Governor McAuliffe said that a conscience protection for religious organizations was actually those groups’ way of “demonizing” a people different than themselves. Calling the protections “unconstitutional” and “discriminatory”, the Governor declared, “We can’t tolerate that. We cannot have fear and persecution.”
In his Press Release, he said that HB 41 would “shield from civil liability those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples.” That this bill was “nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.” Then he said the bill was unnecessary because both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions as well as the Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected religious liberty. Then he called the bill unconstitutional, supposedly because specifying the belief in marriage as a man and woman somehow makes the government prefer one religion to another. And just as a last ditch effort to sound reasonable, the Governor closed it out with an extra-large helping of his bread-and-butter argument about how “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.”
Rhetoric Recap - The bill: demonizes; persecutes; permits some to actively discriminate; stigmatizes; creates fear; is unnecessary; is unconstitutional; and is anti-business.
Wow. Do we ever have a lot of sinister and menacing religious organizations out there, not to mention at least as many poor helpless souls just waiting to fall prey to their discriminatory ways. Well if that is the state of affairs, I for one have never seen it, and I wasn’t born yesterday. Yet again, Governor McAuliffe is playing politics, and he’s not about to let the truth stand in his way.
Does it matter to anyone that the Governor cannot and does not even attempt to justify his inflammatory rhetoric with any real-life evidence? It seems not. Does it matter to him that for as much as he claims the sky is falling on “LGBT” individuals who may potentially be turned away from a religious sacrament, that there are countless more people of faith, of whom there are many real-world examples, who are suffering real discrimination as a direct result of the lack of protections this bill would have afforded? Does it occur to him that those people have rights too, and that they just want “tolerance” for their beliefs too? Clearly it doesn’t.
Forgive me if “that’s just politics” is starting to sound more and more inadequate. But if this year’s vetoes have proven anything, it’s all just politics for this Governor.