Sen. Carrico failed to show for yesterday’s hearing, but his bill protecting people from punishment if they deny services to a same-sex wedding was approved by a House committee anyway.
The bill, SB 1324, and its House counterpart HB 2025, are known as a solemnization bills. They aim to shield any “person” from punishment from the state, civil or otherwise, if they deny services in a same-sex marriage. It defines a “person” as a “religious organization, organization supervised or controlled by or operated in connection with a religious organization, individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of his paid or volunteer employment, successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing or clergy member or minister.”
In layman’s terms, it aims to protect pastors and other faith leaders in churches from civil or criminal punishment if they deny services to same-sex couples. However the bill has also been interpreted by some activists to include other faith-based organizations like church- run schools or hospitals, giving them the ability to refuse visitation rights by same-sex couples, or deny the children of same-sex parents in parochial programs.
It is an exact copy of a bill Carrico submitted last year – that legislation passed the House and Senate in 2016 but was vetoed by McAuliffe weeks later.