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BREAKING NEWS: Vermont House Passes Historic Gay Marriage Bill!

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House votes 95-52. Governor Douglas Has Vowed To Veto The Bill

After a 26-4 vote last week in the Senate, the bill moved to Vermont’s House Judiciary Committee, where it was approved 8-2 on Tuesday. The House has been is session debating the bill, which was expected to pass by a wide margin until Vermont’s Republican Governor, Jim Douglas, in an unprecedented statement, threatened to veto the bill should it come to his desk.

In advance of the vote, hundreds of Vermont’s citizens, who are in favor of gay marriage by a 58% to 39% margin, have swarmed the Capitol steps in Montpelier. One Legislator speaking to the House tonight, said he had been deluged with letters, emails, and telephone calls, 90% in favor of passage. The Governor is in the minority of those who oppose gay marriage. There is strong support for gay marriage within the business community, and within the state legislature. Supporters of the bill believe they have the two-thirds majority of votes needed to over-ride the governor’s veto.

In a move similar to the out-of-state efforts of the Mormon Church supporting California’s Proposition 8,  the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage contacted Vermont residents yesterday, asking them to call their legislators and urge them to vote against the bill.

One legislator stated, “I will vote against this bill, and it’s on religious grounds. This comes down to my religion.”

Many in favor of the bill referred to friends or family who are gay, and they spoke eloquently of how they wanted them to be equal. One legislator, in tears, stated, “I do not like standing here and asking my colleagues if I can get married.” 

Vermont was the first state to approve civil unions for gay couples.

The bill will move to the Governor’s desk after reconciliation tomorrow with the Senate version.

(photo: mattindy77)

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News

Trump Cabinet Secretary Set Up a $300 Million Offshore Company in the Caymans — While Still in Office

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According to a report from the HuffPost, former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was busy attending to his own financial well-being while serving under Donald Trump — raking in at least $53 million and starting up a new business in the Cayman Islands.

Ross, who was recently accused of creating “an environment of paranoia and retaliation” at Commerce, was working on the taxpayers’ dime while keeping his business deals ongoing during his tenure.

The HuffPost reports, “Ross reported making somewhere between $53 million and $127 million during his four years as head of the Commerce Department. The federal government only requires officials to report broad ranges of outside income,” before adding, “Ross’ many and profitable entanglements with private companies while he was supposed to be looking out for the American taxpayer triggered concern and criticism.”

The report goes on to note that Ross’s Commerce duties didn’t stop him from setting up a new offshore business.

“Ross is already engaged in a new enterprise, a special purpose acquisition company that reportedly attracted $300 million from investors. He established the company in the Cayman Islands in January while he was still in public office, ” the report states.

During his time in the Donald Trump’s cabinet, Ross faced multiple complaints about his business dealings, with CREW accusing him “possible insider trading and other violations when he reportedly shorted Navigator stock after learning that a negative story was coming out in The New York Times about his links to the company,” among other ethical issues.

You can read more here.

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CHURCH POLITICIZING RELIGION

‘I Dare You to Deny Me Communion’: 60 Democrats Blast Bishops for Move to Punish Biden by ‘Weaponizing’ Eucharist

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They were warned.

Before their three-day meeting that culminated Friday with a vote to move toward denying America’s second Catholic President, Joe Biden, communion over his stance of supporting a woman’s right to choose an abortion, the Vatican told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to not politicize communion or other sacraments.

They did it anyway, and now powerful Democrats – and many others – are furious.

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat of California, and a Catholic, with a massive 1.6 million followers on Twitter, threatened the Bishops.

His comments were in response to Friday’s news of the USCCB’s politically-motivated decision, and in response to SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile, who asked if other Catholics will be denied communion over their “sins.” Signorile pointed to Newt Gingrich, whose history includes adultery, divorce, and re-marriage. Gingrich’s wife was President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the Vatican.

Another California Democrat, Rep. Jared Huffman, suggested the church should lose its tax-exempt status.

Lieu and Huffman were far from the only Democratic lawmakers to speak out against the USCCB’s move toward denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” 60 House Democrats said in a three-page “Statement of Principles” letter released Friday afternoon.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of abortion is contradictory.”

And they carefully noted the hypocrisy of the Bishops, who have never even suggested denying communion to Republican lawmakers who support the death penalty or engage if the separation of families at the border and caging of children.

“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.”

Some other prominent House Democrats who signed on to the letter include Cheri Bustos, Joaquin Castro, Gerry Connolly, Rosa DeLauro, Debbie Dingell, Ruben Gallego, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jackie Speier.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

US Catholic Bishops Move Toward Denying Biden Communion in Political Decision Violating Vatican Direction

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly voted on Friday to move toward chastising President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, for his policies supporting and defending a woman’s right to choose an abortion. It is the first official step toward denying the U.S. President communion. Biden personally opposes abortion but believes it should be a safe, protected, and legal right, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

The Bishops voted 168-55 to create a “teaching document,” as NBC News reports, to serve as a “rebuke” of Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortion. The Roman Catholic Church opposes the move.

“The Vatican has warned conservative American bishops to hit the brakes on their push to deny communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights — including President Biden, a faithful churchgoer and the first Roman Catholic to occupy the Oval Office in 60 years,” The New York Times reported Monday, suggesting the U.S. Bishops’ move is just as much a political gesture as a religious rebuke.

“Some leading bishops, whose priorities clearly aligned with former President Donald J. Trump, now want to reassert the centrality of opposition to abortion in the Catholic faith and lay down a hard line — especially with a liberal Catholic in the Oval Office.”

The Times reports the push to go after President Biden is being led by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles (photo), the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The focus of this proposed teaching document,” Archbishop Gomez wrote in a memo, “is on how best to help people to understand the beauty and the mystery of the Eucharist as the center of their Christian lives.”

But the Times noted the Vatican does not want “to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and close ally of Francis, said.

Conservative American bishops were demanding “a strong rebuke of Biden,” NBC notes, “because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.”

 

Image of USCCB President José Horacio Gómez by Prayitno via Wikimedia and a CC license

 

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