Lawmakers in Virginia left town Friday evening after completing the 2016 session, but only after finishing work on a biennial budget and dispensing with well over 2000 pieces of legislation.
For us, the most fascinating and disturbing debates of this year's session surrounded efforts to protect the conscience rights of Virginians. In a Commonwealth built on religious freedom, it became abundantly that the secular left has no room for the public exercise of faith, and little tolerance even for the practice of faith within the church itself. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than the debate over a bill that would simply have removed the requirement that those who solemnize marriages take an oath to the state; an oath some feared made clergy “agents” of the state whereby they could be compelled to participate in marriages that violate their faith principles.
One state Senator even seemed to imply that those who won’t solemnize same-sex marriages should be jailed.
Enter Democrat state Senator Chap Petersen, who stood up during the debate over HB 19 and said exactly what many of us felt – the rhetoric by many in his party on religious freedom was downright chilling.
You can watch the Senate debate over HB 19 by clicking the image below; to see Senator Petersen’s remarks, fast-forward to the 8:15 second mark.