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With Gay Marriage Pushing Forward, Religious Conservatives Turn Attention to 'Religious Exemption' Bills

B3bpkfhtj9z3errtvn8uWith the battle against gay marriage losing ground throughout the country, some religious conservatives are shifting their attention to "religious exemption" laws.

The post-Hobby Lobby ENDA is wide open to laws like Mississippi's, or Arizona's (ultimately vetoed) bill, which allow for the denial of service to people, if it's based on religion (so, based on sexual orientation).

The AP reports

Sweeping carve-outs for faith-affiliated adoption agencies or individual wedding vendors will be an uphill battle. Public attitudes against exceptions have hardened, and efforts by faith groups in states where courts, not lawmakers, recognized same-sex unions have had little success.

Unfortunately, this may hold less true in some places. The AP article continues with a quote from Robin Fretwell Wilson, a legal specialist from the University of Illinois. She says:

Some of the states are so red — think South Carolina — that the legislature can likely lock down all kinds of religious liberty protections, even those we have not yet seen adopted anywhere, like protection for the small mom-and-pop wedding professionals, simply because they have the votes of like-minded colleagues.

Another example of Hobby Lobby-related problems presented by the article is that of Utah Republican State Representative Jacob Anderegg (pictured). The senator plans to come back to a bill he had held off on introducing for the last two years, while the fight on gay marriage was in full swing. Senator Anderegg's bill would allow clergy and justices of the peace to refuse particpation in same-sex weddings.

Said Anderegg: The bill reasserts and re-establishes fundamental principles: I have a religious objection. You can’t force me or compel me to do it." 


Barney Frank Criticizes HRC President Chad Griffin's Apology to the Trans Community for ENDA 2007

Frank_griffin

In an interview with The GA Voice, Barney Frank sounds off on Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin's recent apology to the transgender community for HRC's endorsement of a stripped down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act back in 2007 that did not provide gender identity protections alongside sexual orientation.

That bill, introduced by Frank, passed the House 235-184 but was never voted on in the Senate. 

Said Frank:

Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.

JohnsonPeople have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ That is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.

The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’

Frank goes on in the interview to discuss how the topic of trans rights has come a long way in the seven years since then, as well as reveal what he misses most about being a congressman - the friendships and the ability to influence policy. 

Check out the full interview HERE


Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Claims He Never Called 'Firing Gays' a 'Freedom,' Despite Audio Track: LISTEN

RobertPittengerNorth Carolina congressman Robert Pittenger fell into some hot water last week after a Think Progress reporter asked him his thoughts on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Pittenger responded by referring to the right to employ/fire employees as one of "the freedoms we enjoy." Last Wednesday he attempted to right this wrong by issuing a factually incorrect statement including the line, "Americans are well protected already." Now, though, Pittenger is claiming that he never spoke those words, at least not in the context of gay and lesbian employees.

The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

MSNBC last week reported that Pittenger's communications director denied "that Pittenger discussed 'firing gay individuals,'" despite the fact that the question specified "gay or lesbian" people.

“After the event, a blogger asked for an interview and then asked about [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act]. His opposition to ENDA was ‘translated’ into ‘firing gays’ by that blogger,” the director, Jamie Bowers, wrote in an email to msnbc on Friday.

While Pittenger does quickly veer away from explicitly discussing the rights of gay and lesbian employees in the response, his entire statement is subject to be critiqued based on the question asked. At this point, it feels like a shoddy cover-up for a botched response. 

Listen to the audio of the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Claims He Never Called 'Firing Gays' a 'Freedom,' Despite Audio Track: LISTEN" »


ENDA Discharge Petition Stalls at 190 Signatures; 28 More Necessary

A discharge petition filed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. House of Representatives appears to have stalled after 190 Democrats signed their names to it, the Washington Blade reports:

PolisDespite the immediate growth in signatures for the discharge petition within the week it was filed, no one has penned their name this week as of Tuesday, and even the names of some ENDA co-sponsors aren’t on the document.

Four Democrats who co-sponsor ENDA and are able to vote on the floor — Reps. Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Peter Visclosky (Ind.), Jim Matheson (Utah) — haven’t signed the discharge petition. None of their offices responded to the Blade’s request for a comment on why their names were absent.

For at least of two of these Democrats, the issue may be the narrowed religious exemption in this version of ENDA. Matheson represents a portion of Utah in the U.S. House that has Mormon-affiliated businesses; Visclosky is a Catholic.

The petition requires at least 218 signatures to force a House vote on the measure.

There are also reports that work may be underway to attach the ENDA language to a larger piece of legislation.

More at the Blade...


Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Says Firing Gay People Is a 'Freedom We Enjoy' - VIDEO

Pittenger

Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is courting controversy for remarks made at a recent town hall meeting in response to a question asking whether or not he supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.

Responded Pittenger:

"It's like smoking bans. Do you ban smoking or do people have the right to private property? I think people have the right to private property… If you have a business, do you want the government to come in and tell you you need to hire somebody? Why should government be there to impose on the freedoms we enjoy?"

Backlash was swift, with gay rights groups and even the Charlotte Observer calling out Pittenger's stance. The paper wrote an op-ed Tuesday saying Pittenger's flawed argument could've been made for racial discrimination in the past. 

Watch a NBC Charlotte news report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Pittenger2In an attempt to clarify his comments, Pittenger issued a statement to the station Wednesday saying:

"The statutes are clear, that Americans are well protected already. We should fully enforce current laws against discrimination. I hear America's cry for more jobs and a stronger economy, not more federal regulations added to the vast maze of federal regulations we have already. That can only stifle the ability of entrepreneurs to create new businesses and new jobs. It's incredibly hard to operate or start a business already, and I don't think America is begging for more obstacles to an economic recovery. Where does it stop? Is the next regulation going to prohibit a layoff even during an economic downturn? Will the next law mandate full employment? Where does the government's role in dictating our daily lives end? That's the debate we should be having."

Contrary to Pittenger's idiotic follow-up statement's implications, North Carolina and 28 other states continue to have no protections for LGBT people facing discrimination in the workplace. 

An ENDA discharge petition being pushed by Rep. Jared Polis currently has the support of 75 lawmakers - all of whom are Democrats.

Continue reading "Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) Says Firing Gay People Is a 'Freedom We Enjoy' - VIDEO" »


ENDA Discharge Petition So Far Has Support from 75 Dems, No Republicans

A discharge petition for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) being pushed by Rep. Jared Polis has the support of 75 of 218 lawmakers it needs to succeed, the Washington Blade reports.

PolisThe petition has no Republican support so far, even from GOP lawmakers who went so far as to co-sponsor the original bill:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), an original co-sponsor of ENDA, has already vowed not to sign a discharge petition, saying through a spokesperson it’s a “partisan political tool.”

But Polis took Republican supporters of ENDA to task, saying it’s time “to throw down the gauntlet” because co-sponsoring the legislation isn’t enough.

Still, the bill, which has a narrowed religious exemption, faces challenges even if passed by the House, the Blade adds:

Even if the House were to succeed in passing ENDA with a narrower discharge petition, the chances of passing a version of the bill in the Senate with that language would be complicated. Still, Polis expressed confidence the upper chamber of Congress would pass the bill if the discharge petition were successful.

“The previous incarnation of ENDA was in the pre-Hobby Lobby era,” Polis said. “I’m confident that if this is brought to the House floor and passes, the Senate will be able to expeditiously act on this bill and sent it to the president’s desk.”

The Blade reports that Dems are "bullish" on its prospects. At least one pundit is skeptical:


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