There is no time to wait! You must contact Governor Northam TODAY aboutSB 868 (D-Ebbin), which for the first time in our laws, establishes and elevates to a specially favored status the subjective and fluid concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI). While the entire bill is highly problematic, please urge the Governor to at least make sure to add critical protections for churches, religious schools and other religious organizations!
As you may recall, after much pressure the Senate initially agreed to add one of our key amendments to HB 1663 (D-Sickles) (the companion bill to SB 868) to ensure churches and religious schools were not deemed “places of public accommodation,” thus opening them up to targeted lawsuits. Accomplishing that would have given the Governor two versions to choose from, one with better protections for religious freedom. But the House rejected that amendment, forcing a Conference Committee (3 Delegates and 3 Senators) to try to work out an agreement on the language.
Rather than allowing the possibility of the Governor choosing between a version with protections for religious organizations and one without protections, the other sidemade the extraordinary decision to KILL their own bill, HB 1663! It also seems likely they wanted to avoid more public exposure of their true intentions to target religious groups!
SB 868 is now before the Governor awaiting action, and we need him to amend the bill to add meaningful protections for religious organizations. The thousands of emails, calls, and personal contacts you helped make this session finally broke through enough to force legislators to act, and now they could help influence the Governor to act.