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Anti-Gay GOP State Lawmaker Unveils New, More Dangerous Weapon Against LGBT Rights

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Expert Says Georgia Senator’s First Amendment Defense Act Is ‘RFRA on Steroids’

If 2015 was the year of RFRA madness, 2016 may be all about FADA fever. 

The bad news is, so-called First Amendment Defense Acts (FADAs) are generally worse than Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). In fact, one LGBT legal expert called Georgia’s FADA “RFRA on steroids.” 

This week, Georgia freshman GOP state Sen. Greg Kirk — a former Southern Baptist pastor — introduced a state version of a proposed federal law designed to give virtually every individual and entity — from government employees and contractors to for-profit businesses — a license to discriminate against same-sex couples, even legally-maried ones, and their children. Similar bills have been introduced in at least four other states, Illinois and Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington. 

Kirk, who is in his first term, was elected in 2014 and won the GOP primary by just 222 votes. There was no Democratic challenger.

“The consequences of FADA would be devastating, if upheld,” constitutional law scholar Anthony M. Kreis writes at GeorgiaPol.com. “The fear of discrimination against LGBT persons, women, and others, that stokes opposition to the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act is – unlike [with] RFRA — a feature of FADA and not a bug.” 

Kirk’s Senate Bill 284 would prohibit government from “taking discriminatory action” based on a person’s belief that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” 

In other words, SB 284 could allow any “person” — which the bill defines as “any individual, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, firm, enterprise, association, public or private organization of any character, or other legal entity” — to discriminate against gay couples, their children, single parents, unmarried couples, pregnant women and others, based on religion. 

Although some are calling it “the Kim Davis bill,” Kirk maintained at a press conference Thursday SB 284 wouldn’t allow government employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

However, Kreis notes that SB 284 doesn’t define “public officer” or “official duties.” Moreover, he writes, the bill would violate free speech and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, respectively, because it favors a particular viewpoint and singles out LGBT people. 

“Do not be fooled,” he writes. “FADA is not an accommodation law for religious objectors. It is, however, a blunt tool to browbeat and demean LGBT Georgians, unconventional families, and unmarried individuals deemed morally corrupt.” 

Lambda Legal called Kirk’s bill “divisive” and “dangerous,” saying it would unleash “legal havoc” and effectively treat for-profit businesses like churches. 

“It encourages discrimination, invites litigation, and collides with fundamental rights protected under the US Constitution,” the group said. 

The Human Rights Campaign called SB 284 “despicable” and “reckless,” adding that it “threatens to create a breakdown of state government services.” And Georgia Equality said the FADA “flouts the rule of law.”

“This legislation sets a dangerous precedent — we can’t pick and choose which laws we want to follow based on our personal beliefs,” Georgia Equality wrote. “This bill not only exposes married same-sex couples and their children in Georgia to harm, but it risks imperiling our state’s economy.” 

The bill could cost the state’s economy $1 billion, according to Georgia Equality, which pointed to recent surveys showing damage to Indiana’s business reputation as a result of the state’s passage of a RFRA in 2015. After weeks of intense economic backlash, the Indiana Legislature passed an emergency “fix” clarifying that the RFRA doesn’t sanction anti-LGBT discrimination. 

Kirk claims his bill — which would also nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances — is needed to protect business owners against being “criminalized.” 

Watch Kirk’s press conference below. 

Some responses via Twitter:

 

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TALK ABOUT RIGGED

Pence Suggests Unnamed Trump SCOTUS Nominee Should Skip Committee and Just Be Confirmed Before ‘Election Issues’ Arise

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Vice President Mike Pence is in full campaign mode now, making the rounds on news channels and holding re-election rallies. On Tuesday the Indiana Republican told Fox News Business’ Lou Dobbs that perhaps President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-named Supreme Court nominee should just skip the usual Judiciary Committee hearings and get confirmed by the U.S. Senate immediately.

Pence said the nominee should get a committee hearing, but only “if needs be.”

He might have been thinking that since Chairman Lindsey Graham has already said there are enough votes to confirm, even though no one knows who the nominee is, why take up valuable time when the outcome has, for the first time in U.S. history, been preordained without even a facade of interest in vetting.

Insisting that Trump has “a duty” under “the Constitution to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court,” Vice President Pence said, “we respect the role of the Senate to advise and consent but President Trump truly believes that the Senate should move thoroughly thoughtfully and quickly and and move to consideration a hearing, if needs be and ultimately to a floor vote because we you know we have, we have major issues in the country today.”

What are the major Supreme Court issues?

“You know, Lou with all of the talk about universal unsolicited mail and validating where we see states around the country that are now, extending the deadline,” Pence said, referring to President Trump’s lie that voting by mail will make the election “rigged.”

“There is a possibility that election issues may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election and all the more reason why we should have nine justices on the Supreme Court to, to be able to resolve any issues that may arise then or on any other matters.”

In other words, Trump wants a justice on the nation’s top court prepared to hand him the election.

Watch:

 

Image by Michael Candelori via Flickr and a CC license

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SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?

‘Soldiers for Christ’: Trump Cabinet Bible Study Teacher Calls Elections a ‘Spiritual Battle’ That ‘Believers Will Win’

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Ralph Drollinger, a Bible study teacher who uses his extraordinary access to top government officials in the United States and abroad to push right-wing policies as biblically mandated, distributed a Bible study Monday telling readers that “it is imperative that committed Christians be praying for an outcome that glorifies our Lord, and that believers will win office.”

“Don’t misinterpret the elections: they are first and foremost a spiritual battle requiring mature, spiritual weaponry,” Drollinger wrote in a Bible study distributed Monday. He also repeated his assertion that the only prayers that God hears and acts on are those of Christians.

In previous writings, Drollinger has demonstrated little respect for Christians who interpret the Bible differently than he does. He has called the “social Gospel” that motivates millions of liberal American Christians “a perversion of scripture” and “not Christianity whatsoever!” He has called Catholicism “one of the primary false religions of the world.” He urges public officials not to take part in “syncretistic” events like the National Prayer Breakfast, arguing that by participating in events that combine different forms of belief, attendees invite God’s wrath rather than his blessing.

Drollinger holds Bible study sessions for members of the House and Senate as well as Trump’s Cabinet while his written Bible studies are distributed widely and used by Capitol Ministries leaders active in state and local governments and foreign governments. Drollinger writes in this week’s Bible study that only people who are “mature in Christ” can be “ideal candidates for public office.”

Drollinger, whose Capitol Ministries is committed to evangelizing public officials and “discipling” them to his biblical worldview, writes that elections are “a critical time” for a public official who is “a soldier for Christ.” Drollinger writes that “when the believer wields the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and Satan reacts through his minions, there will exist critical times or seasons for necessary petitioning—that is, if you are a soldier for Christ.”

In “Oaks in Office,” his handbook for public officials, Drollinger wrote that “the critical and preeminent duty of the Church in an institutionally separated society” is “to evangelize and disciple—to Christianize—the leaders of the State and its citizenry.” Nevertheless, Drollinger insists that he is not a Christian nationalist because he does not believe in changing the structure of government to give the church an official role. He says he supports institutional but not influential separation of church and state.

Among Drollinger’s many fans within the Trump administration is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has used his position to open doors for Drollinger to bring his proselytizing and right-wing-policy-promoting ministry into the inner circles of government in foreign capitals.

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr 

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DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE

McEnany: ‘The Fact That We Have Come Nowhere Near’ 2 Million Coronavirus Deaths Is ‘a Testament’ to Trump

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended President Donald Trump’s misleading and false claim that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody,” and insisted that it is “a testament” to Trump that 2 million Americans have not died from COVID-19.

The U.S. just crossed the tragic marker of 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.

“As you’ve heard several doctors in the Task Force note from this podium, we were looking at the prospect of 2 million people potentially perishing from the coronavirus in this country,” McEnany told reporters Tuesday, suggesting wrongly that doing absolutely nothing would have been a legitimate course of action Trump could have taken.

She called the more than 200,000 deaths, “a testament to the hard work done by the Task Force and this President.”

On Monday at a rally in Ohio Trump told supporters the coronavirus “affects elderly people. Elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it.”

“You know, in some states, thousands of people, nobody young” dies, Trump added. “Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows. You look — take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.”

McEnany told CNN’s Jim Acosta Tuesday afternoon that President Trump was “giving critical information” at Monday night’s rally when he said the virus “affects elderly people” and “that’s it.”

 

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