Last night the West Virginia Senate debated what amendments they would add to HB 4012, their Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill. The bill purports to protect religious freedom, but creates the real threat that it will be used to trump anti-discrimination laws, especially those for LGBT West Virginians. In fact, many pushing the bill support it because it they hope it will allow them to ignore anti-discrimination laws. The bill passed the House and Senate committee with failed attempts to fix this problem.
But, during the floor debate last night, something incredible happened. As the Senate discussed the addition of language to ensure that it won’t be allowed to be used to discriminate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R) stood and delivered a truly heartfelt and moving speech supporting the proposed amendment.
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Kudos to the Majority Leader for taking a stand for civil rights.
Those pushing the HB 4012 weren’t pleased with the amendment, demonstrating again that their goal really is to use the bill to discriminate. For example, Family Policy WV, the bill’s main supporter, has appeared to turn against the bill, angry that won’t be able to use it to trump nondiscrimination laws. They even called it “the most pro-gay rights bill being considered in any state legislature in America…” That would be laughable, except that some people believe it.
The bill could still lead to problems for many Mountaineers, but yesterday we at least witnessed legislators stand against LGBT discrimination. Things are still unfolding and the Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill today.