Hate Group Rallies Outside Capitol Before Wednesday Hearing on ‘Natural Defense of Marriage Act’
Supporters of the anti-gay marriage bill set to be considered by a Tennessee House committee on Wednesday rallied outside the Capitol in Nashville this morning. They also reportedly circled the building in a pickup truck carrying a large sign reading, “The Cost of Tolerance: AIDS.”Â
The extremist group behind Tuesday’s protest, DefyTyrants.com, hosted the event in December where GOP state Rep. Mark Pody stated that God told him to file House Bill 1412, known as the “Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act,” because same-sex marriage is “wicked.” The bill would eliminate marriage equality in Tennessee by requiring officials to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, atÂ a potential costÂ of $8.5 billion annually to the state.
Pody spoke with supporters Tuesday:
At Capitol rally, Rep Mark Pody revs up supporters of his Defense of Natural Marriage Act pic.twitter.com/n2lskq5Vyc
â€” Jeff Woods (@jeffwoods1955) January 19, 2016
On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing on the bill before the House Civil Justice Subcommittee,Â Nashville Scene‘s Pith in theÂ Wind, which first reported on the offensive sign, posted a photo of it to Twitter:
â€” Pith in the Wind (@pithinthewind) January 19, 2016
Nashville SceneÂ adds that a handful of protesters from DefyTyrants.comÂ held Bibles and anti-gay signs as they gathered on a sidewalk outside the Capitol.Â
â€œIâ€™m a United States veteran and a citizen of North Carolina, which is in the United States,â€ protester Alan HoyleÂ told Nashville Scene. â€œI swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and the Constitution says nothing about marriage, and a court canâ€™t decide on marriage. No judge can make a law. A judge cannot rule against the people. Weâ€™re for natural marriage.â€
DefyTyrants.com is the brainchild ofÂ Matt Trewhella,Â a radical Christian preacher from Wisconsin whoÂ onceÂ signed a statement in defense of the murder of abortion providers.Â
Trewhella espouses a theory calledÂ â€œinterposition of the lesser magistrate,â€ which is essentially the idea that elected officials have a Godly duty to “stand in the gap” by defying court rulingsÂ that go against so-called divine law.Â In fact, Trewhella has criticized the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel for using “religious liberty” as the basis for its defense of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, calling it “nonsense.”Â
â€œShe shouldnâ€™t be just trying to keep little Kim Davis from having to have her hand in the process of this abomination, two men or two women marrying,” Trewhella has said of Davis. “Her duty is far bigger than that. She actually has the duty to defy the higher authority completely and interpose on behalf of righteousness and therefore abate the just judgment of God upon our nation. Thatâ€™s what true interposition of the lesser magistrate entails.â€ Â
Trewhella was the keynote speaker at a rally supporting Pody’s bill in December, where the lawmaker told the crowd that God spoke to him personally during prayer and said his role was to fight marriage equality. Before Trewhella spoke, an unidentified man introduced him by saying: â€œListen folks, we will not win without casualties. People get hurt in war. Itâ€™s a consequence of it. But if we donâ€™t go to war, untold millions following us will be destroyed.â€
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement Tuesday slamming Pody’s bill.Â
â€œThe Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally settled the issue once and for all by making clear that loving and committed same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry,â€Â HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said. â€œThis legislation is thoroughly unconstitutional, and it would no doubt cost taxpayers significantly in a vain, injudicious attempt to undermine marriage equality for LGBT Tennesseans.â€
Also Tuesday, two more county commissions in Tennessee were set to vote on resolutions supporting the bill. Five county commissions in the state have already passed similar resolutions.Â
The Tennessee Equality Project is encouraging LGBT advocates and allies to attend the county commission meetings, as well as the legislative hearing, wearing red.Â
“Rep. Pody’s visions are dangerous because he claims a basis for making public policy available just for him and those like him â€”his belief that divine voices are calling him to thwart the rights of others,” TEN Executive Director Chris Sanders said recently. “Hearing divine voices as a basis for lawmaking may have worked for Moses, but Rep. Pody’s bill will not lead us to the Promised Land. It may actually lead to more violence against the LGBT community.”Â
For people like Trewhella, that’s apparently the goal. Watch his speech at the rally in support of the bill below.Â
Image via Facebook
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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.
Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.
Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.
Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.
Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.
Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human
Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.
“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.
The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.
The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.
Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.
Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.
In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”
Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat
When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.
However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.
“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.
To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.
The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.
Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.
Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.
Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.
While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.
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