Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had a busy Easter Week, signing laws that threaten life, free speech, religious freedom and parental rights.
The Virginia government took a hard left-turn last November, as Democrats took complete control of the state government for the first time in more than 25 years. It’s another reminder that elections have consequences, a lesson Christians should pay attention to as we approach November 2020.
On Monday of Holy Week, the governor signed a ban on counseling for minors struggling with homosexuality or sexual identity issues. The law means that a fourteen-year-old boy who struggles with same-sex thoughts and fantasies, but who believes what the Bible says about God’s design for sexuality, may not talk to a counselor about how to live according to that design. Such prohibitions threaten the free speech and religious freedom of counselors and their clients. The law also undermines parental rights, as it prevents parents from seeking therapy to help gender dysphoric children to accept their bodily maleness or femaleness.
The next day, Governor Northam approved a law sponsored by Danica Roem, a legislator who was born male but identifies as female. The Family Foundation (TFF), a Family Policy Council affiliated with Focus on the Family, writes that the law “requires any health carrier (most employers) to pay for ‘transgender’ health-related treatments in their health plans, including ‘gender reassignment surgeries.’”
The legislation defines “gender identity” as “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.” TFF says the law has “no religious exemption, even for religious organizations.”
Good Friday is the day when Christians around the world remember Jesus’ death on the cross, an act of love and sacrifice which brings us life. The governor used that day to promote death, signing the so-called “Reproductive Health Protection Act.”
With a swipe of the pen, Northam rolled back “decade’s worth of legislation aimed at protecting the unborn and women,” TFF said. The law eliminates “basic health and safety standards in abortion facilities”; permits nurse practitioners and nurse midwives to perform abortions; removes the requirement of an ultrasound before an abortion; and abolishes the “24-hour waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion.”
In his statement about the legislation, Northam said, “No more will legislators in Richmond—most of whom are men—be telling women what they should and should not be doing with their bodies.” Sadly, the governor – and the Virginia legislature – showed little concern about the bodies of pre-born infants in the womb.
The governor released a statement on Holy Saturday, proudly announcing that his signature made Virginia the first Southern state to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) to non-discrimination laws. The bill adds SOGI to public accommodations, employment, credit and housing laws. According to TFF, it “also creates new civil and government-initiated causes of action to sue people claimed to be in violation.” The bill also expands the power of the Virginia Attorney General “to prosecute and fine anyone in relation to any claims of such discrimination.”
In the name of “tolerance, inclusivity and diversity,” SOGI laws have been used across the country to attack and shut down Christian non-profits, including schools, hospitals and adoption agencies. They’ve also been the basis for expensive, years-long lawsuits against Christian-owned businesses. SOGI public accommodations laws open the door for sexual predators to threaten the privacy and safety of women and children.
Easter Week is a time for Christians around the world to celebrate the good news, proclaimed by Paul in I Corinthians 15: Christ died for our sins; He was buried; He was raised on the third day; and He appeared to Peter, the twelve, and hundreds more.
Though billions around the globe believe in our risen Savior, we still live in a fallen world. The Virginia government’s actions in this last session demonstrate this quite clearly.
Related articles and resources:
Virginia’s Family Policy Council: The Family Foundation