In an op-ed, a rabbi in West Virginia spoke out against HB 4012, a dangerous bill that would allow any person to claim their religious beliefs excuse them from following any state or local law.
“I am absolutely convinced that people who support this bill do so with the best of intentions: to protect religious individuals who hold deeply held beliefs,” Rabbi Victor Urecki wrote in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “I get that. I live with deeply held beliefs that are not always accepted by the majority culture. But I can attest as an observant Jew that in West Virginia, that is not an issue. This is a bill looking to find a solution where there is no problem…The First Amendment protects us all well and the kindness of the people of our state has shown me for decades that religious expression is valued and respected. This bill is unnecessary.”
Earlier this month, HRC and Fairness West Virginia, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, denounced the bill. Not only could the bill allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people, the broadly-written bill would go even further, putting all minority communities at risk for discrimination.
“I am deeply concerned with what passing this bill will say about West Virginia and my Christian brothers and sisters, who have welcomed me and shown me what Christians in this state are all about,” the rabbi concluded. “This bill will send the absolute worst message: that Christians are intolerant, want to discriminate, and hate. That is not my experience at all but I am afraid that will be the message if this bill passes.”
The attacks on fairness and equality in West Virginia are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. HB 4012 is part of nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills across 32 states that have been introduced this year.
For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/2016legislature.