A federal court in Virginia acknowledged last week that “sexual orientation” is not the same thing as a person’s “sex” under Title IX, which deals with civil rights in educational settings. In other words, “sex” still means male and female – the same as it meant when Congress wrote the law decades ago. As a result, Virginia schools and universities that receive federal funds shouldn’t fall prey to claims of discrimination based on the progressive left’s concept of “sexual orientation.” 

Given that it is the “sexual orientation” portions of many non-discrimination laws and ordinances that are now being used to penalize and even criminalize people for their faith – people like Christian cake artist Jack Phillips, or Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman and many others – it’s critical that Virginians don’t invite in through our courts and legislature what has become a Trojan horse for many other states. It is for this reason that The Family Foundation has opposed legislation that would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to protected classes in Virginia law.  We fear that such laws would further weaponize the government against those who choose to not participate in events that violate their faith.

This case is important because it affirms that no federal court in Virginia, including the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which encompasses the state of Virginia, has interpreted sex discrimination under federal law to include the concept of a person’s “sexual orientation.”

During the past two legislative sessions in Richmond, The Family Foundation has championed a religious freedom bill that would shield religious schools and charities from government penalties or the loss of benefits simply for observing policies consistent with their long-held religious beliefs about marriage. We helped get the bill to Governor McAuliffe’s desk both years, and both times he vetoed it.

Rest assured we’ll continue to fight for religious liberty and conscience rights for all. Hopefully this year we’ll get a Governor who will stand up for religious liberty. In the meantime, it’s helpful that Virginia’s state and federal courts are still holding the line.