The second full week of the 2014 Virginia General Assembly was indeed an eventful one.  Yesterday, Attorney General Mark Herring announced he will not defend Virginia’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  This amendment, overwhelmingly approved by Virginia voters, protects the true institution of marriage which transcends history, cultures and religions.  Unfortunately, Virginia’s Attorney General has put his personal preferences above the will of the people he was elected to serve, and will not only refuse to defend an amendment which he himself voted for, but will join the plaintiffs in federal lawsuits opposing Virginia’s marriage amendment in the hopes of opening the doors to same-sex “marriage” here in the Commonwealth.

The Bishops of Virginia expressed profound disappointment in the Attorney General’s decision, saying, “We call on the Attorney General to do the job he was elected to perform, which is to defend the state laws he agrees with, as well as those state laws with which he personally disagrees.  We will continue to defend marriage between a man and a woman, an institution whose original design predates all governments and religions.

The Virginia Catholic Conference will continue its vigorous defense of marriage between one man and one woman.  We will keep you informed of our ongoing efforts to fight back against efforts, both legislative and judicial, that seek to redefine marriage. Stay tuned!

Here’s a look at how some of the Conference’s key issues fared at the General Assembly this week:

Death Penalty: The Conference opposed HB 1052 (Delegate Miller), which provides that electrocution shall be used to administer the death penalty if the Director of the Department of Corrections certifies that lethal injection is not available as a method of execution.  The bill passed the full House 64-32. The Conference also opposed a companion bill, SB 607 (Senator Carrico), which failed to pass in the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services on a 6-6 vote.

Scholarship Tax Credit Program:  Conference-supported legislation, SB 269 (Senator Stanley), would allow donations to scholarship foundations to be claimed for a Scholarship Tax Credit in the taxable year the donation was made.  Currently, a one-year delay between the tax year in which the donation is made and the tax year in which the credit can be claimed has made the program less attractive to some potential donors.  After passing the full Senate 21-17 on Monday, it was referred to the House Committee on Finance.  A companion bill, HB 464 (Delegate Massie), passed the House Finance Subcommittee #2 on a 6-4 vote.

Catholic Advocacy Day:  It’s almost here!  Our annual Catholic Advocacy Day is this coming Thursday, January 30, in Richmond.  This is a unique opportunity for Catholics across the Commonwealth to come to the capital, hear from the Bishops, then visit their legislators’ offices to advocate for issues affecting the common good, including the protection of human life and marriage and social and economic justice. Register today!