HB 19 summary:
Ministers or other persons authorized to celebrate rites of matrimony; no oath required. Provides that no oath shall be required of a minister or other person who seeks authorization to perform the rites of matrimony and that no such authorized minister or other person shall be considered an officer of the Commonwealth by virtue of such authorization.
The Following was from the Family Foundation:
Amidst a flurry of vetoes, late last week, the Governor signed a bill to clarify that those members of the clergy and others who receive state authorization to solemnize weddings in Virginia will not have to take an oath to the state as a condition for that authorization. Â In other words, individuals who officiate weddings wonâ€™t be considered officers of the state by doing so. Â As a consequence, they cannot be required to officiate a wedding ceremony with which they disagree.
This was simply never an issue until last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court created a constitutional â€œrightâ€ to same-sex â€œmarriage.â€ As a predictable result, anyone and anything remotely connected with marriages and weddings has been coming under fire â€“ including pastors, priests and ministers. Â Â Â Â
The good news is that this bill, HB 19, introduced by Delegate Chris Head (R-17, Roanoke), will hopefully put a little bit more distance between pastors and religious persecution by their government. Notwithstanding, most everyone recognizes that pastors should already be protected in this way and shouldnâ€™t be forced to perform a wedding ceremony that violates their faith tenets. Â So although the Governorâ€™s signature on HB 19 was a nice gesture, it hasnâ€™t exactly has not made him a friend of religious liberty. Â Â
Though rather alarmingly, despite the broad consensus on protections for pastors, many Democrats in the Senate and House of Delegates have entered very dangerous territory on this issue. Â Out of nineteen Senate Democrats, only one â€“ Sen. Chap Peterson (D-34, Fairfax) â€“ voted for the bill. Â Taking the Senate floor after watching a spirited back-and-forth debate among his colleagues, Sen. Peterson remarked,
â€œ[A]re we going to put people in jail or hold them civilly liable because they say: â€˜I didn't take this oath and agree to perform marriages to do every marriage under the sunâ€™?Â â€¦ Some of the rhetoric I hear is: â€˜gosh, if you don't perform all marriages then you ought to be punished because you are a bad person.â€™ I am uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric frankly coming from my side of the aisle. Maybe this bill is more necessary than I thought.
All is it says is if you are a not a public official and come forward voluntarily to officiate marriages, you don't become an officer of the state and you don't have to be subject to criminal penalties.â€Â "
So in short ... a minister can officiate weddings (As a minister in Virginia) those weddings in which aren't contrary to his beliefs.
Several things come to mind for me:
1. I think this is a good thing.
2. I'm a skeptic though, and wonder why isn't on the news and more "protest" but I digress and am glad.
3. I wonder if other states have such laws to protect their ministers.