Not content to let Indiana get all the bad press, Virginia is preparing its own law to allow business owners to bar LGBT patrons from their establishments in the name of religious freedom.
Virginia House Bill 1414 states that anyone holding a Virginia business license can bar entry or refuse service to gay people if they believe it would “violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex ‘marriage’ or homosexual behavior.”
The law would allow restaurants, shops, hotels, schools, hospitals and all other businesses to deny goods and services to anyone based on their real or perceived sexual orientation.
The bill was authored by Bob Marshall, a Republican state delegate known for his virulently anti-gay views. In the past, he has attempted to ban gay people from serving in the Virginia National Guard, and he tried to block the appointment of a gay judicial nominee in 2012 by claiming that “sodomy is not a civil right.”
Other states are also attempting to legislate anti-gay discrimination. On March 31, Arkansas passed a religious freedom bill similar to Indiana’s controversial law. The bill sailed through the Arkansas Legislature and is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed.
Hours before Arkansas passed its anti-gay bill, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence held a news conference to both defend his state’s religious freedom law and to ask for a legislative fix to better clarify its terms to the public.
Indiana’s law has created a massive national backlash against Pence and the state. Several major business events scheduled to be held in Indiana have been canceled, and the governors of Connecticut and Washington have banned government-funded travel to the Hoosier state.