By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com February 02 2013 8:01 PM ET
Virginia's lower house passed a bill on Thursday that would allow student groups at public universities to deny members because they conflict with the groups' religious beliefs.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly by a 80-19 vote, prohibts "discriminating against a student organization or group on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical or other content of the organization or group’s speech." The bill also allows religious or political student organizations to determine who will not be allowed in their membership "in furtherance of the organization’s religious or political mission."
Republicans got behind the bill, while Democrats were less enthusiastic. LGBT leaders in the state believe this will give student groups a free pass to deny and boot gay and transgender members.
"Our concern with the bill is it allows discrimination with publicly accessible funds," Kevin Clay of Equality Virginia told Metroweekly. The bill now heads to the state senate.