ACLU Asks Governor to Act against Bills that Infringe on Rights

Bills affecting open meetings, gay unions, reproductive freedom and right to seek court review of convictions need alteration

The ACLU of Virginia has urged Governor Mark Warner to veto or amend several bills passed during the 2004 legislative session. According to the ACLU, these bills significantly infringe on our civil liberties or civil rights.

In a series of memos and letters, ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis and legislative director Aimee Perron have asked the Governor take action against the following bills:

1) HB 751, which bans civil unions or any contract between people of the same sex that confers the rights of marriage. In addition to violating the principle of equal protection under the law, the ACLU believes that HB 751 may prevent gay and lesbian couples from making simple agreements regarding such matters as funeral arrangements and child custody.

2) HB 1/SB 319, which makes the killing of a fetus a separate crime in Virginia. The ACLU believes that the intent of this law is to erode reproductive freedom by giving the fetus separate standing under the law.

3) HB 1347, which allows the General Assembly to close its meetings, except for floor

sessions and committee meetings. The ACLU believes that, with rare exception, all meetings of government officials should be open to the public.

4) SB 333, which gives convicted persons unlimited time to have newly found evidence of their innocence reviewed by a court, but permits them to petition the court only once and restricts use of the process to individuals who plead not guilty at trial. The ACLU supports this bill, but wants removed the limit to a single use and the requirement for a not guilty plea.

The ACLU has also asked the Governor to veto a bill banning nudist camps for juveniles and another that effectively prevents methadone clinics from locating in urban areas in Virginia. Separate releases on these bills may be found on the ACLU of Virginia website at www.acluva.org.

Enclosed are copies of the letters to the Governor, in which the ACLU’s critiques each of the bills enumerated above and recommends a corrective course of action.

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022
Aimee Perron, Legislative Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022

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