Virginia governor signs bills combating Jew-hatred

Glenn Youngkin campaigning on Oct. 30, 2021, a few days before he was elected governor of Virginia. Credit: Michael Robb Photography/Shutterstock.

(JNS) — Two of the 100 bills that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law on April 2 address antisemitism.

“From day one, we have made combating antisemitism and religious bigotry a top priority,” the Republican governor stated. “As one of my first executive orders, I formed the Commission to Combat Antisemitism, which issued a recommendation that Virginia revise its laws to ensure Jewish Virginians are protected from hate crimes, along with Muslims, Sikhs and other ethnic and religious groups.”

On April 2, Youngkin signed SB 7, which unanimously passed the state Senate (36-0) and House of Delegates (100-0). The law’s aim is “to safeguard all individuals within the commonwealth from unlawful discrimination in employment and in places of public accommodation because of such individual’s ethnic origin and prohibits such discrimination.”

The legislation “also adds victims, who are intentionally selected because of their ethnic origin, to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery or trespass for the purpose of damaging another’s property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense.”

The governor also signed the identical HB 18, which also passed both the state House (99-0) and Senate (40-0) unanimously.

“As the first state to weave religious freedom into the fabric of our nation, Virginia is leading once again and sending a clear message that Virginians should not be the victim of a crime simply because of their religion, race, or ethnicity,” stated Youngkin, who also vetoed four bills on Tuesday.

“Legislation outlawing antisemitism isn’t just about protecting a particular group,” stated Bryce Reeves, a Republican state senator. “It’s about defending the fundamental values of equality, justice and human dignity for all. It adheres to the highest values we hold dear as Americans—liberty and justice for all.”

“Hate has no place in our communities,” stated Dan Helmer, a Democrat state delegate.

“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and a Jew whose children have confronted antisemitism in our schools, this bill is personal for me,” Helmer added. “I’m grateful to the governor for signing this bipartisan legislation to protect people of every ethnicity across the commonwealth.”