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Montana House Narrowly Defeats 'Religious Freedom' Bill With Evenly Split Vote

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The Montana Legislature turned down a proposed referendum Friday after the bill, which resembles Indiana’s religious freedom bill, failed to pass on a 50-50 vote reports the Associated Press. Opponents of HB 615 argued that the bill’s language is so vague it would’ve allowed any church, business or individual to openly discriminate and freely violate laws; supporters of HB 615 countered that the measure would have brought a 1993 federal law to the state level that is aimed at preventing legislation that considerably burdens a person’s right to exercise religion.

The AP adds:

When he presented the proposal Wednesday, Republican Rep. Carl Glimm of Kila said he intended for the bill to prioritize people's "sincerely held religious belief" above job descriptions. He and other supporters said it would allow county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to gay people and let pharmacists refuse to fill birth control prescriptions if they felt it would inhibit their religious practice. [...]

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said before the floor debate that Montanans respect each other enough not to need a law like Indiana's, which at least one large corporation cited when pulling its business out of that state this week.

"What's happening in Indiana is something that shouldn't be happening in Montana," Bullock said before the floor debate. He added, "We don't need laws like that imported into our state."

The AP notes the bill could be reconsidered Saturday. 


A Supercut of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Refusing to Say Whether He Supports Anti-gay Discrimination: WATCH

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appeared on ABC’s This Week yesterday and continually deflected questions from host George Stephanopoulos on whether he opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians. No matter how hard Stephanopoulos tried, Gov. Pence weaseled his way out of answering his questions eight separate times.

Watch HRC's supercut of Pence's trainwreck interview, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "A Supercut of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Refusing to Say Whether He Supports Anti-gay Discrimination: WATCH" »


Michigan Civil Rights Commission Endorses Model Local LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.29.36 PMThe Michigan Civil Rights Commission endorsed a model local non-discrimination ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity at a meeting held at the Holocaust Memorial Center on Monday reports the Daily Reporter. The ordinance states that no one should be denied "civil rights or be discriminated against," on the basis of gender expression, identity and sexual orientation. The model also bars bias based on education, age, disability, race, sex, religion, weight, national origin, marriage or family status. Commission Chairman Arthur Horwitz stated that the ordinance is designed to provide a more cohesive anti-discrimination view for over 30 Michigan municipalities.

Said Horwitz:

"The concept of developing a model non-discrimination ordinance grew from the fact that more than 30 Michigan municipalities have non-discrimination ordinances that vary significantly in their structure, wording and scope... developed model language that municipalities could access if, in their own discretion, they decided they wanted a starting point for their own discussions and deliberations."

In a January appearance before the commission, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder expressed hope that the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature would continue discussing a bill to add protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people to the state civil rights law. However, House Speaker Kevin Cotter, a Midland Republican and American Family Association of Michigan leader, believes the measure is unnecessary saying that gay and gender identity laws are a "solution in search of a nonexistent problem," and that they "have a history of themselves being discriminatory" in forcing people to choose between their morals or religious beliefs.


White House Voices Concerns Over Indiana’s Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Law

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The White House voiced concerns today over the passage of Indiana’s religious freedom law that could potentially allow discrimination against LGBT people reports Metro Weekly. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law yesterday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence raises legitimate concerns for companies considering doing business in the state and is a step backward for all Americans.

Said Earnest:

"I have seen that there are a number of private businesses and nonprofit organizations that have said that the signing of this law prompts them to reconsider doing business in the state of Indiana. All those business and some of those who are considering having conventions in Indiana have raised concerns about whether all of their employees can count on being treated fairly in Indiana. 

"I think that is a testament to the kind of reaction I think a lot of people all across the country had, which is that the signing of the bill doesn’t seem like it’s a step in the direction of equality and justice and liberty for all Americans. Again, that’s not just the view of the administration, I know that’s the view of the Republican mayor of Indianapolis and a whole host of nonprofit and private sector companies who have legitimate concerns about the impact of this legislation."

Earnest added that he hasn’t spoken to President Obama directly regarding Indiana’s new law, or the "Kill the gays," ballot initiative that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is currently fighting.

 


Legal Case Against Irish Bakery That Refused to Bake 'Bert and Ernie' Cake Supporting Gay Marriage Begins: VIDEO

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Legal proceedings against a bakery in Northern Ireland for refusing to take an order for a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage” began yesterday, reports RTE.

Based in Newtownabbey, Ashers Baking Company is named after a verse from the Bible which refers to "Bread from Asher.”

Customer and gay rights activist Gareth Lee is supported in his action by the Northern Ireland's Equality Commission (NIEC).

Opening the case against Ashers, Robin Allen QC said the baker’s objections on religious grounds was not lawful and as unjustifiable as a postman declining to post a letter.

Noting the publicity surrounding the case, Allen said that “law must not be determined by those who shout loudest,” adding “this is a case about commerce and discrimination.”

The NIEC alleges that the stance of the company was in breach of legislation. Initially, the commission asked Ashers to acknowledge that it had breached legislation and offer "modest" damages to Lee. However, when the baker refused, the commission proceeded with the legal action.

Arriving at court ahead of the hearing, Ashers owner Daniel McArthur said he was putting his trust in God.

The hearing is expected to conclude today.

Watch a Christian Institute interview with McArthur, AFTER THE JUMP...

Earlier this week, the government in the Republic of Ireland indicated there will be no "right to discriminate" provision in the upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage.

Continue reading "Legal Case Against Irish Bakery That Refused to Bake 'Bert and Ernie' Cake Supporting Gay Marriage Begins: VIDEO" »


Dropped Planet Fitness Member Sues Company For Being Too Transgender-Friendly: VIDEO

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Yvette Cormier, who had her Planet Fitness membership revoked after making waves about trans woman Carlotta Sklodowska using the women’s locker room, has sued the fitness chain for more than $25,000, reports MLive.com.

LogoAfter complaining to local staff in Michigan and escalating her concerns with corporate offices, Planet Fitness enacted its “Judgement Free Zone” policy and cancelled Cormier’s membership on March 4th.

A press release detailing the lawsuit reads in part:

"Ms. Cormier was wrongfully denied the benefits of her contract with Planet Fitness and wrongfully denied the use of the public accommodations at Defendant's gym because she objected to Defendant's unknown policy.

"Mrs. Cormier has filed this lawsuit to protect Michigan women and children and to hold Planet Fitness accountable for its irresponsible policy and actions. This case further illustrates the potential harm caused by adding the proposed new categories of sexual orientation/gender identity to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.”

Elliott-Larsen prohibits discrimination based on race, age, sex, religion and more, but does not offer protections based on sexual orientation.

Cormier’s complaint lists the alleged damages she suffered as "loss of use of gym facilities," "fear about using the gym facilities," "embarrassment and humiliation," "severe emotional distress" and "damage to reputation."

It claims Cormier's rights were violated in seven counts including breach of contract, an exemplary damages claim, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and three counts of sexual harassment under Elliott-Larsen.

According to the summons and complaint, she suffered "aggravation, annoyance, discomfort, disgrace, feelings of oppression, humiliation, inconvenience, indignation, insult, mental anxiety, mental suffering, mortification, outrage, scorn, shame, sorrow, vexation, and worry."

Planet Fitness has declined to comment on the case.

Watch a report on the lawsuit and a CNN interview with Cormier, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Dropped Planet Fitness Member Sues Company For Being Too Transgender-Friendly: VIDEO" »


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