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  • Lawmaker On 'Religious Freedom' Bill: 'Baking A Cake Is Not Persecution'

    Only Jewish Lawmaker In West Virginia House Emotionally Denounces Religious Freedom Restoration Act

    Del Pushkin RFRA

    Delegate Mike Pushkin speaking from the House floor in opposition to HB 4012, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    Posted by WV House Democrats on Thursday, February 11, 2016

    The West Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday took up one of dozens of anti-LGBT bills making their way through state legislatures this year. Most in some way try to make discriminating against LGBT people – especially same-sex couples – legal, by letting anyone or any company, corporation, or organization claim to have a "sincerely held religious or moral belief" against same-sex marriage or even LGBT people in general.

    The House debate Thursday was contentious. For two hours lawmakers battled with HB  4012, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), even though one supporter of the bill admitted that it "really doesn’t restore anything."

    Several lawmakers took to the floor to explain why the bill was supposedly necessary. 

    Republican Delegate John Shott, according to The Register-Herald, "said he was dismayed at a Christmas party last year when a guest there said he had not displayed his Nativity scene this year because he 'wasn’t sure whether it was legal or not, whether it was going to create any problems or not or whether somebody was going to complain.' Shott said the party guest 'just didn’t think it was worth the trouble.'"

    “That really caused me to pause,” Shott told his fellow lawmakers. “We really live in a country of hyper-sensitivity. We have really become so paranoid," he added, at expressing "the devotion that we feel to what is the foundation of this nation, and that’s religion.”

    Democratic Delegate Mike Pushkin took to the floor, and in a very respectful and honest speech, explained that he was "offended by the intent" of the bill.

    Pushkin said he attended a hearing that detailed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act "is about protecting a religious minority from undue persecution."

    "I believe I am the only member of a religious minority elected to this body currently," Pushkin said. "I'm Jewish. Religious freedom is very important to me. If it wasn't for religious freedom I wouldn't be here," he stressed, adding that his family fled "real religious persecution" in Eastern Europe.

    EARLIER: Watch: West Virginia Lawmaker Says If Gays Are Allowed Nondiscrimination Protections Pedophiles Will Get Them Too

    "In my lifetime I cannot tell you what religious persecution is, because I'm an American, and we do not persecute people in America for religious beliefs, because we have the First Amendment to the Constitution, that's very well written."

    Asking what the real reason behind the RFRA is, Pushkin concluded it's because "same-sex marriage is now legal in West Virginia." He called the bill a "pushback" from people who are "not persecuted, but possibly inconvenienced."

    He offered as an example of religious inconvenience a meeting he had to attend as a state lawmaker on the most holiest of days on the Jewish Calendar, Rosh Hashanah.

    "I did my job," Pushkin said, adding that he was late for religious services. "That was an inconvenience."

    "I didn't stand on the courthouse steps and cry about it, I didn't really say much," he said. "Mike Huckabee didn't fly into West Virginia and hold my hand on the courthouse steps," Pushkin said, raising his arm in a manner similar to the now-iconic image of the Baptist preacher standing with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.

    "It was a scheduling problem that interfered with my religious beliefs."

    Pushkin then offered an example of the difference between religious inconvenience and religious persecution.

    "Having to bake a cake when you are a professional baker, and having somebody pay you to bake a cake is not discrimination. It could, possibly, be seen as an inconvenience," Pushkin offered. "But you're a baker."

    "I don't see that, really as an inconvenience. It's somebody choosing to do their job," he said, then, paused in frustration.

    "I guess what I'm trying to say is, baking a cake is not persecution. Getting baked in an oven is persecution," Pushkin said, clearly alluding to the millions of Jews and other people slaughtered in Nazi Germany.

    The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday passed by an overwhelming majority, 72-26. It now moves on to the Senate.

    There is a change.org petition you can sign asking the Senate to not vote for hate.


    Image via Facebook
    Video via WV House Democrats




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    • commented 2016-02-16 14:42:48 -0500
      Let’s take your new right to discriminate to the next step. There is nothing preventing you from deciding something in other religions are sins in yours. Next thing you know, we’ll start seeing signs saying ‘No jews’, ‘No catholics’, ‘No muslims’,‘No hindus’ (We have had them before and not so long ago either)— none of them believe exactly the same things you do… Starting with believing in the ‘right’ god. Why should you have to support or approve of their blasphemy by "participating’ in their ceremonies – say by providing cakes or flowers…

    • commented 2016-02-14 04:21:03 -0500
      Joe Aleks - Psst, discriminating against someone based on religion IS illegal… Go read the W.Va anti-discrimination laws, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc.

    • commented 2016-02-14 01:14:02 -0500
      Just find a damned baker that WANTS your business. You’re far. Ore likely to get good service and no saliva, urine or semen in your wedding cake if you aren’t using the government as a tool to literally force the person to choose between involuntarily doing shit they aren’t willing to do… Or some self righteous gay a-hole using the government to destroy their lives all because that baker’s decision forced them to make one more freaking phone call.

    • commented 2016-02-14 01:06:50 -0500
      Someone refusing you service at a business they own and operate with their own time, money and effort is not persecution either. You really want to force someone to cook for you if they don’t want to and/or don’t even like to?

      What’s next? Having a no shirt, no shoes, no service sign outside is discriminating against nudists, right? Destroy their lives! Burn their building down!

    • commented 2016-02-13 19:18:39 -0500
      You may have a point. If, like you, they fail to respect other perspectives, they may forfeit protections they might otherwise be afforded. And LGBT has never been known for politeness or tolerance. They sure work hard at forcing their views on others, like fanatics do. I’ll admit to the ISIS analogy being hyperbolic.

    • commented 2016-02-13 18:45:44 -0500
      ISIS? Really?
      Have you always been a lunatic or is this something new you’re trying?
      LGBT is a religion?
      That’s a new one, and I’m sure it comes as a surprise to everyone. But, if it’s true, then the First Amendment has been protecting gays and they didn’t even know it.

    • commented 2016-02-13 16:00:36 -0500
      Baking a cake IS persecution if it requires you to tacitly support a religious belief that your religion consiiders sinful. Whats that you say? LGBT isn’t a religion? Oh, yes it is. While it may lack a deity, it does have a specific set of beliefs and values. And a deity is no more nor less than a personification of the beliefs and values of a faith. So LGBT zealots who persist in attempts to impose your religion on the rest of the world (very much like ISIS), you can expect to find yourselves outnumbered through most of the land. Protect your enclaves, if you want your faith to survive at all. But if the fight is more important than your values, then, as ISIS will, be, you will be ultimately defeated and disraced

    • commented 2016-02-13 10:46:23 -0500
      I’m not sure why certain bigots in this country find pleasure taking away the rights of others when the write hateful bills. All this does is elevates them over another minority and makes them “better” than the other person. If that was their intention and they still think of themselves as a religious person, perhaps they should rethink that again. Would their god approve of what they just did for their own “glory?” Would their god approve that they made the minority suffer more by denying them with this bill?" If they’re still happy with this decision, then let them suffer the consequences on “their” judgment day.

    • commented 2016-02-13 08:38:40 -0500
      There is no shortage of uneducated, ignorant, mean primitives in America….whether or not they are religious zealots.

    • commented 2016-02-13 00:28:35 -0500
      More importantly, baking a cake has nothing to do with the free exercise of religion.

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