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Watch: Top Indiana GOP Lawmakers Throw Gov. Mike Pence Under The Bus

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In a hastily-called press conference Monday morning, Indiana’s two top GOP lawmakers tried to do damage control, throwing Governor Mike Pence under the bus.

Apologies – video starts immediately.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (image, top) and Senate President Pro Tem David Long hosted a press conference this morning to try to control some of the damage done by Governor Mike Pence Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” and by their anti-gay “religious freedom” bill the governor signed last week.

Pence of course gave a cringe-worthy interview Sunday, refusing to answer six or eight questions about discrimination, but going so far as to say preventing discrimination against LGBT people was not on his “agenda.”

Republicans Bosma and Long, both of whom have worked for years to keep LGBT people as second class citizens, falsely characterized Indiana’s RFRA as being one of many laws in 30 states that are all extremely similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In fact, the Indiana law is nothing like the federal law – it is the most wide-sweeping law of its kind –  and very dissimilar to many state RFRAs.

The two GOP lawmakers are refusing Democratic state lawmakers’ calls to pass an LGBT non-discrimination law, but – in closely-parsed statements – acknowledged they were considering passing another bill that would clarify that their RFRA was not created with the intent to discriminate.

“To the extent that we need to clarify through legislative action that this law does not and will not be allowed to discriminate against anyone, we will do just that,” Long said.

Bosma added, “To the extent that might be the effect of the bill, we are prepared to encourage our legislative colleagues to take immediate action.”

LISTEN: Indiana Restaurant Owner Says He Discriminates Against Gays, Glad The Law Supports Him Now

Ironically, GOP lawmakers had the opportunity to do just that when they were considering amendments to the bill, but refused to include any that would have stated the bill’s intent was not to allow or support anti-LGBT discrimination.

In what might be a stunning acknowledgement, House Speaker Bosma admitted he has “been listening to legal experts, some of whom support gay marriage some of whom don’t, who have called for this change.”

Those legal experts are likely the mostly anti-gay activists who signed on to a letter of legal advice advocating for the RFRA law to begin with. Those “experts” include National Organization For Marriage co-founder Robert P. George, anti-gay activist Douglas Laycock, and Robin Fretwell Wilson, co-author of the divisive Utah non-discrimination and religious protection laws.

Bosma also talked about the backlash over the past few days, saying it was the result of “miscommunication and misinterpretation by both opponents and proponents.” 

“There was a mantra from opponents that it allowed denying service, and then, unfortunately, some proponents concurred,” Bosma said.

The two lawmakers were only too happy to use the Governor’s poor performance as a political shield, and said they were forced to hold the press conference as a result of Pence’s poor performance Sunday.

The Indy Star reports that during today’s presser, “Bosma said ‘the fact that [Gov. Pence] did not answer questions clearly’ was part of the reason for Monday’s news conference. “I think it raised the spectre that (discrimination) was the effect or the intent, and that’s why we’re standing here today,” he added.

One interesting note: Governor Pence, Speaker Bosma, and Senator Long all used almost identical language and talking points in their media appearances yesterday and today as Family Research Council spokesperson Peter Sprigg did this morning on CNN.

Why is that?

Here’s the full 29-minute press conference, should you care to watch the lawmakers’ obfuscation, mischaracterizations, and falsifications:

 

Image: Screenshot via The Indy Channel

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Revealed: Indicted Congressman Is ‘Longtime’ Member of Secretive Religious Org Tied to Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill

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U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), indicted on federal charges on Tuesday for allegedly lying to the FBI about campaign finance issues, is a longtime member of the highly secretive, highly political, and largely evangelical Christian group known as The Family.

That organization was recently highlighted in a Netflix documentary inspired by Jeff Sharlet’s investigative book, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.”

In addition to its highly secretive political work The Family also hosts the annual National Prayer Breakfast, which has been attended by every U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Many Americans became aware of the existence of The Family a decade ago when it was revealed the group had ties to the Uganda lawmaker pushing extreme legislation known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. The Family allegedly supported the bill. It provided the death penalty for homosexual acts, and after years of international outrage the text was watered down to become the “Jail the Gays” bill, imposing a life in prison sentence for LGBTQ people. It was signed into law in 2014, and later invalidated by the Ugandan Supreme Court.

On Wednesday The Young Turks exclusively reported Congressman Fortenberry’s membership in The Family. TYT notes the secretive organization has also “been tied to multiple political scandals in recent years.”

“Fortenberry’s involvement with The Family has not been previously reported,” TYT adds. “However, his chief of staff, Andy Braner, is a fellow insider, who has spoken publicly about his attendance at the National Prayer Breakfast, dating back to 2014, and has ties to The Family dating back as early as 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile.”

Fortenberry has hosted highly anti-LGBTQ guests at the National Prayer Breakfast, including Timothy Broglio, the Archbishop for the Military Services, USA. Broglio, who recently came out against Pope Francis’ position on vaccines in order to publicly oppose them, supported then-President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender service members. He also opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

TYT’s report also says that Congressman Fortenberry “has been invited to multiple events overseas connected to The Family, two of which he was apparently invited to attend on The Family’s dime. Congressional disclosure forms filed by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) list Fortenberry as having been invited on at least two of Aderholt’s trips sponsored by The Family.”

Also unknown to many is that, according to TYT, anti-LGBTQ evangelical activist Franklin Graham is the National Prayer Breakfast’s only financial donor.

You can read the entire report here.

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Coup Memo’ Think Tank Encouraging ‘Secession-by-Sheriff’ With Latest Project: Report

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A right-wing Claremont Institute is undermining law and order and encouraging secession one county at a time.

The think tank, where coup memo author John Eastman remains a member in good standing, is weaponizing “patriotic law enforcement officers” with its new “Sheriff’s Fellowship” that ties together conservative anger over Black Lives Matter protests, COVID-19 lockdowns and Donald Trump’s election loss to bring so-called “Constitutional Sheriffs” into the mainstream, reported The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes.

“Our nation’s conservative movement needs a countervailing network of uncorrupted law enforcement officials,” the think tank announced. [We need sheriffs] “not beholden to bureaucratic masters, and whose geographic boundaries, jurisdictional latitude, and — most important — direct connection and responsibility to citizens, places them on the frontlines of the defense of civilization.”

The plan sounds a lot like the Constitutional Sheriffs movement, which has infiltrated law enforcement agencies around the country with specious claims borrowed from the sovereign citizen movement that places the county sheriff as the “highest legitimate law enforcement” in the U.S. and claims they have authority to determine which laws are constitutional.

“Think of it as militias with badges, guns, and formal law enforcement powers,” Sykes wrote. “Or, if you like, secession-by-sheriff.”

Trump and his administration encouraged the sheriffs’ movement and openly backed leading figures such as Arizona’s Joe Arpaio and Wisconsin’s David Clarke, and former attorney general Jeff Sessions praised the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of the office — which the Claremont Institute also did in a recent fundraising letter.

“The current revolution against the American regime, involving as it does both crime and political malfeasance, requires a coordinated response from patriotic law enforcement officers,” the letter reads. “Sheriffs are appropriate for this response. Since their beginnings as ‘shire-reeves’ (‘county watchmen’) centuries ago in England, sheriffs have been intimately connected with, and answerable to, the people of their “shires” and therefore the first layer of protection, and last line of defense, for the people’s rights.”

Another Arizona sheriff, Pinal County’s Mark Lamb, has emerged as a leading figure among militia-minded right-wing sheriffs who are loyal to Trump and supportive of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“If Claremont gets its way, there will be sheriffs like Joe Arpaio, David Clarke, and Mark Lamb all across the country,” Sykes wrote. “You are not worried nearly enough about what that might mean.”

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CRIME

Josh Duggar Dealt Another Blow as Judge Refuses to Suppress Video Evidence in His Child Porn Case

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Josh Duggar was dealt yet another blow on Monday, after a judge refused his attorneys’ request to suppress video evidence in his bombshell child pornography case.

Duggar, once a darling of the religious right, an executive for an anti-LGBTQ hate group, and a “19 Kids and Counting” reality TV star, was arrested by U.S. Marshals and charged with two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was involved in the investigation.

“In Mr. Duggar’s case, he has not shown that federal agents acted with reckless disregard for proper procedure,” U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks said Monday in denying attorneys’ requests, as the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports. “And he certainly has not shown that the agents acted in bad faith. Moreover, Mr. Duggar cannot show he was prejudiced by any delay; the devices remained in law enforcement’s safe keeping throughout this time period, and the probable cause warranting the initial seizure of the devices remained viable through the date of indictment.”

In 2015 news broke that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was a teenager, according to his parents.

Just three weeks ago the judge refused nearly all of Duggar’s attorneys’ requests, including dismissal of all charges.

His attorneys have tried to get photographs that include the 33-year old Arkansas native’s hands and feet suppressed, and even tried to have the case dismissed because the head of the Department of Homeland Security at the time of the investigation under then-President Donald Trump was, according to a federal judge, “unlawfully” appointed.

Trial is scheduled to begin November 30.

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