Virginia faith leaders angry over failed controversial bathroom bill

Virginia faith leaders angry over failed controversial bathroom bill

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Several Virginia faith leaders are coming forward and are angry that a controversial bathroom bill did not make it very far in the General Assembly. They say they are unfairly being attacked for their views.

The meeting started with prayer then several faith leaders from across the Commonwealth turned their attention to the bathroom bill that failed in the General Assembly.

"Now we want to say it's okay for men to enter our wives' bathrooms and boys and teens to enter our daughters' bathrooms and locker rooms. Are we crazy?" says Pastor Jim Langlois with The Master's House in Ashland.

Delegate Bob Marshall's bill would have prohibited people from using the bathroom of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings. It also would have required school principals to notify parents if a student starts to identify with the opposite gender. While the bill died in a house committee, these ministers are not giving up.

"For some kind of reason, we got stuck inside the church talking to ourselves instead of going and talking to the kings, to the president, the mayors to the politicians," says Bishop Leon Benjamin with New Life Harvest Church in Richmond. "They need to hear the word of the Lord."

But Equality Virginia says there is good reason the bill didn't survive.

"That bill posed many problems, from the economic harm we saw in North Carolina to the actual harm it causes transgender people when they're not allowed to use the restrooms of the gender they identify with," says James Parrish with Equality Virginia. "Most of the people speaking adamantly against these bills haven't sat down with transgender families and transgender kids and don't understand."

The ministers also say they have an issue with the LGBT community when it comes to family values.

"We have a difficult time defining righteousness and again when anybody does define it: they're judgmental, or they're bigoted or they're homophobic or they're xenophobic or whatever title you want to throw at us," says Pastor Travis Witt with Gilboa Christian Church. "It really is thus sayeth the Lord and that's where we stand."

Equality Virginia urged these faith leaders to remember, members of the LGBT community are people too.

"Transgender youth, gay youth are no more likely to harm students as any other student," says Parrish. "To further stigmatize a group of students that are consistently shown to be at the top of whose bullied, whose likely to be homeless, whose likely to be kicked out of their home is unfair at best, but it's actually very mean-spirited."

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