GOP Lawmaker Wants ‘Concrete Guarantee‘ For ‘Right’ To Discriminate On Religious Grounds, Or Carry A Gun
Republican State Senator R.Â Michael Young (photo) has decided theÂ international attention and outrageÂ last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act earned lawmakers and the governor ofÂ Indiana was insufficient, so he wants a do-over.Â
Sen. Young has authored SB 66, anti-gay legislation that would repeal the RFRA, including the legislative “fix” that had to state the law could not be used to discriminate against LGBT people. In its place, Sen. Young’s bill would codify into law the right to discriminate for any reason, includingÂ and especially for religious reasons, and the right to carry a gun.
Because Sen. Young used language so sweeping and broad, his bill is being described as the original RFRA “on steroids” by Freedom Indiana.
In addition to the already-protected First Amendment right to worship, Young wants the “right to free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions and the right of conscience,” offering no boundaries whatsoever. For some reason, Young believesÂ the right to bear armsÂ â€“ the right to own and carry a gunÂ â€“ needs to be included under his legislation.
The bill defines “person” as an “individual, including a group or association of individuals,” and as any other “legal entity.” In other words, corporations, houses of worship, hospitals and schools owned by churches, stores, restaurants, etc., are people too my friend.
That means that you local neighborhood John’s Pizza, or Joan’s Garage, or even your cable company can deny you service on the grounds of “religious opinion” or “conscience,” period, and, further it means no Indiana governmental entity or official can stop them unless it is “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest,” andÂ â€“ not or, but andÂ â€“ it “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
Which means lawsuits. Lots of lawsuits.
Worse, it could mean that a government employee, say, a DMV worker, could refuse to give a teenager a driver’s test, if they perceive them to be LGBTQ. Or perhaps a police officer might decide to not respond to a domestic violence call because the couple is same-sex. Maybe an EMS worker would refuse to help a person they think is transgender because it goes against their religious beliefs.
How are these examples to be handled, in the moment, without the law being specific and explicit? And who is harmed while the courts battle it out?
Freedom Indiana today “condemned Senate Bill 66 as a dangerous piece of legislation that would thrust the state back into the national spotlight created by last year’s Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and bring about even more legal and reputational challenges for the state,” the LGBT civil rights group said today in a statement.
“Not only would it reopen the national and international wounds caused by last year’s discriminatory RFRA legislation,” Freedom Indiana campaign manager Chris Paulsen added,Â “it would make it easier to discriminate against any group currently or potentially protected underÂ our civil rights law. Just when you thought lawmakers had learned a lesson from RFRA, a handful of them have decided to breathe life into a ‘Super RFRA.'”
Professor Robert KatzÂ of the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law told the Indy Star Young’s bill “would effectively amend the Indiana Bill of Rights to create a two-tiered system of rights.”
Meanwhile, Professor Daniel O. Conkle of theÂ Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington told the Indy Star the bill “goes well beyond religious freedom.”
Conkle “offered an example to illuminate how Senate Bill 66 could enhance protections for the right to bear arms. Under this legislation, if the government wanted to ban switchblades â€” as it did for decadesÂ â€” it would have to demonstrateÂ aÂ compelling interest for a statewide prohibition.”
The first question Sen. Young and other lawmakers should be forced to answer is, what’s happened all of a sudden that there’s a need for this legislation?Â
And the first question Gov. Mike Pence needs to answer is, does he want to subject his state to another episode of international outrage, further damaging the Hoosier economy he wrecked last year, or will he send a message to lawmakers to place their attention on Hoosiers’ real needs?
Image: Screenshot via YouTube
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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History
For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.
Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.
“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”
The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:
“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”
A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.
While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.
Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.
“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”
TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”
According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”
Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”
“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”
Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.
Image via Shutterstock
George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation
The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.
“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”
“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”
Regardless, Santos is taking action.
The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.
Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.
“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.
It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.
Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.
‘They’re Not Taking My Gas Stove’: Joe Manchin Teams Up With Hard Core Republicans to Promote False Claims
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is again promoting the false claim that the federal government is planning to remove gas stoves from private homes, after news last month revealed once more the open-flame appliances are responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of children’s asthma.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out,” said Manchin, who has made millions from coal and protects his state – which ranks in the top five for production of natural gas – at every turn.
Manchin, a rare breed of conservative Democrat, announced in a Senate hearing on Thursday that he is teaming up with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and James Lankford to fuel the unfounded fears of the federal government coming to rip gas stoves out of Americans’ homes – fears promoted by the right.
“Gas stoves have been in the news lately and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” Manchin declared, despite there being no possibility of that. “In fact, I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure that they don’t and separately sending a letter to the commission with Senator Lankford.”
“I’ve always been a proponent of energy efficiency,” Manchin continued, “but the draft proposes efficiency levels that DOE [Dept. of Energy] says at the highest level, up to 96% of gas stoves don’t currently meet. I don’t like where I think they’re going with this and I tell you one thing, they’re not taking my gas stove put. My wife and I would both be upset.”
Manchin went on the claim the Biden administration is “looking to find ways to push out natural gas.”
And he warned the feds to stay out of his kitchen.
“Like I said before,” Manchin declared, “the federal government doesn’t have any business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”
The federal government does have a responsibility, by law, to warn Americans of health and safety issues in their homes. For decades it has been doing just that.
But the West Virginia Senator went even further, stating: “retrofitting or removing stoves that people have had for years is not going to happen.”
Manchin isn’t just blowing smoke – he has a lot at stake in the “gas stove war.”
“West Virginia is the fourth-largest producer of marketed natural gas in the nation,” according to a federal government December report.
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action,” The New York Times reported last year. It called the West Virginia Democrat “the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy.”
Watch Sen. Manchin below or at this link.
“They’re not taking my gas stove out!” pic.twitter.com/P4zFGC6Kqp
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 2, 2023
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