Gov. McAuliffe vetoes ‘religious exemption’ bill

(AP Photo/Molly Riley)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed legislation he said would legalize discrimination of the LGBT community.

The Democratic governor made the announcement Wednesday during a radio appearance on WTOP.

The measure would prohibit the state from punishing religious groups that refuse services related to gay marriages. Republican supporters said it would protect people from expressing their religious beliefs.

Opponents assailed it as an attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.

Republican-backed measures related to LGBT rights recently have attracted fierce national push back from large corporations in Georgia and North Carolina. Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill similar to Virginia’s earlier this week.

But the fight in Virginia has received significantly less attention, thanks largely to McAuliffe’s repeated promises to veto the bill.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement, applauding McAuliffe’s decision:

“I applaud Governor McAuliffe for vetoing SB41 that would discriminate against thousands of Virginians and send the absolute wrong message to current and prospective employers who want their employees and their families to live in a welcoming and inclusive Commonwealth.

This important veto shows Virginians the difference that having the right Governor makes.  Just last week, North Carolina’s Governor signed House Bill 2, one of the most anti-LGBT laws in the country, and an upsetting response to a nondiscrimination law passed in the City of Charlotte. Since Indiana’s Governor signed a so-called religious freedom bill into law in 2015, Indianapolis alone has lost $60 million in tourism.

As part of Governor McAuliffe’s economic development team and a member of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, I work hard every day to make sure that Virginia is business friendly and welcoming to all. Thanks to Governor McAuliffe’s leadership, Virginia will not become the next North Carolina.”

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