Letter to the Editor: Gilbert’s bill wasted lawmakers’ time

Editor:

Del. Todd Gilbert’s Virginia House Bill 773 supposedly protects faith-driven opponents of same sex marriage. It’s an ugly bill — and a pointless government intrusion.

In 2006, I regularly shopped at a Woodstock business. One day, I found a flyer in my purchases advocating against same-sex marriage — a flyer offensive to my faith and to family members.

I returned to the store to say I might regretfully no longer shop there. I learned that other loyal customers had raised the same concern. The business owners decided to stop inserting the flyers — rather than lose a few valuable customers.

The business owners had the right to insert the flyer. We customers had the right to choose where we spent our money. Government had nothing to do with it.

Ten years later, businesses are even less likely to openly oppose same-sex marriage, not because of supposed government discrimination, as Del. Gilbert’s bill title suggests, but because real businesspeople need all their customers, and attitudes are changing rapidly.

Del. Gilbert’s bill was amended, and now only protects marriage officiants’ right to refuse same-sex couples. Of course, clergy and other marriage officiants can and often do already legally turn down couples for any kind of reasons or no reason – without Del. Gilbert’s bill.

Del. Gilbert’s bill winks at bigotry. But it also wastes the General Assembly’s limited time and resources. All it can actually do is to please some easily deceived voters while accomplishing nothing.

Larry Lamar Yates, Winchester

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