Sponsor says governor's amendment is the exact opposite of religious expression bill's intent
Lawmakers will be back in Richmond next week to consider several amendments from the governor.
Sometimes amendments from the governor are friendly. Other times they’re hostile and perhaps even do damage to the original intent of the bill. Delegate Irene Shin is a Democrat from Fairfax County who says the governor's amendment to one of her bills does the exact opposite of what she was trying to accomplish. Her original bill protected people from discrimination because they had an outward expression of faith, like a headscarf or a yarmulke. She says the governor’s amendment ends up protecting people who want to engage in discrimination.
"I think about the example of some who would say, 'I can't use your proper pronouns because that might go against my religious beliefs,'" Shin says.
Allowing discrimination based on religious belief is opening up the door to problems, says Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
"One time I had somebody say to me that part of her religious practice was that she only ate local food, and that if I didn't provide her local food as part of our program then I was discriminating against her religion," Bobo says. "Well that was nuts then, but this bill would put that kind of craziness into practice."
Supporters of the amendment say the governor is just trying to clarify what the bill was trying to do, not change the meaning altogether. Delegate Shin says she plans to question whether the amendment is germane or needs to be thrown out.