Only Jewish Lawmaker In West Virginia House Emotionally Denounces Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The West Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday took up one of dozens of anti-LGBT bills making their way through state legislatures this year. Most in some way try to make discriminating against LGBT people â€“Â especiallyÂ same-sex couplesÂ â€“ legal, by letting anyone or any company, corporation, or organization claim to have a “sincerely held religious or moral belief” against same-sex marriage or even LGBT people in general.
The House debate Thursday was contentious. For two hours lawmakers battled with HB Â 4012, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), even though one supporter of the bill admitted that it “really doesnâ€™t restore anything.”
Several lawmakers took to the floor to explain why the bill was supposedly necessary.Â
Republican Delegate John Shott, according to The Register-Herald, “said he was dismayed at a Christmas party last year when a guest there said he had not displayed his Nativity scene this year because he ‘wasnâ€™t sure whether it was legal or not, whether it was going to create any problems or not or whether somebody was going to complain.’ Shott said the party guest ‘just didnâ€™t think it was worth the trouble.'”
â€œThat really caused me to pause,â€ Shott told his fellow lawmakers. â€œWe really live in a country of hyper-sensitivity. We have really become so paranoid,” he added, at expressing “the devotion that we feel to what is the foundation of this nation, and thatâ€™s religion.â€
Democratic Delegate Mike Pushkin took to the floor, and in a very respectful and honest speech, explained that he was “offended by the intent” of the bill.
Pushkin said he attended a hearing that detailed that theÂ Religious Freedom Restoration Act “is about protecting a religious minority from undue persecution.”
“I believeÂ I am the only member of a religious minority elected to this body currently,” Pushkin said. “I’m Jewish. Religious freedom is very important to me. If it wasn’t for religious freedom I wouldn’t be here,” he stressed, adding that his family fled “real religious persecution” in Eastern Europe.
“In my lifetime I cannot tell you what religious persecution is, because I’m an American, and we do not persecute people in America for religious beliefs, because we have the First Amendment to the Constitution, that’s very well written.”
Asking what the real reason behind the RFRA is, Pushkin concluded it’s because “same-sex marriage is now legal in West Virginia.” He called the bill a “pushback” from people who are “not persecuted, but possibly inconvenienced.”
He offered as an example of religious inconvenience a meeting he had to attend as a state lawmaker on the most holiest of days on the Jewish Calendar, Rosh Hashanah.
“I did my job,” Pushkin said, adding that he was late for religious services. “That was an inconvenience.”
“I didn’t stand on the courthouse steps and cry about it, I didn’t really say much,” he said. “Mike Huckabee didn’t fly into West Virginia and hold my hand on the courthouse steps,” Pushkin said, raising his arm in a manner similar to the now-iconic image of the Baptist preacher standing with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.
“It was a scheduling problem that interfered with my religious beliefs.”
Pushkin then offered an example of the difference between religious inconvenience and religiousÂ persecution.
“Having to bake a cake when you are a professional baker, and having somebody pay you to bake a cake is not discrimination. It could, possibly, be seen as an inconvenience,” Pushkin offered. “But you’re a baker.”
“I don’t see that, really as an inconvenience. It’s somebody choosing to do their job,” he said, then, paused in frustration.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, baking a cake is not persecution. Getting baked in an oven is persecution,” Pushkin said, clearly alludingÂ to the millions of Jews and other people slaughtered in Nazi Germany.
The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act on ThursdayÂ passed by an overwhelming majority, 72-26. It now moves on to the Senate.
HB4012 passed the House. I voted “no”. I only wish my red button was louder #StopHB4012
â€” Mike Pushkin (@pushkinforhouse) February 11, 2016
There is a change.org petition you can sign asking the Senate to not vote for hate.
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Ginni Thomas Testifies Today Before J6 Committee
Far-right-wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, who held a months-long pressure campaign with Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to force him to somehow overturn the 2020 election, and sent numerous emails to GOP lawmakers in multiple states also trying convince them to overturn the election, will testify today before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Were Thomas merely a far-right wing extremist, or even a wealthy and powerful lobbyist, her actions would have received less scrutiny, but given she is married to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, who was the sole vote opposing the release of January 6 documents to the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, many see her actions as concerning and deserving of investigation.
Politico’s Kyle Cheney broke the news Thomas will testify before the Committee today. Her testimony will be virtual. The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell adds, it is “voluntary.”
Calling Thomas “one of the panel’s most high-profile outstanding witnesses,” Politico reports, “Lawmakers took interest in her connections to John Eastman, a legal architect of former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plan to subvert the 2020 election. She’d invited Eastman to speak to an activist group in the aftermath of the election, though Eastman has denied ever discussing Supreme Court-related matters with Thomas.”
In a March opinion piece on MSNBC, Wayne Batchis, associate professor of political science at the University of Delaware, examined the Supreme Court’s “Clarence Thomas (and Ginni Thomas) problem.”
“It turns out that Thomas not only sat on the board of an organization that promoted the dangerous fiction that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from former President Donald Trump through fraud, she also attended the rally attempting to vindicate this paranoid propagandistic fantasy (and said she left before Trump took the stage),” Batchis wrote.
” All the while, in what might resemble the coordinated efforts of synchronized swimmers, husband and wife seemingly sought to thwart the investigation into the democratically perilous events of Jan. 6. Ginni Thomas signed on to a letter seeking the expulsion of Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference for joining the House Jan. 6 investigation committee; Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter — standing in opposition to the rest of the court, including its three Trump appointees — in a decision allowing for the release of Jan. 6-related documents to said committee.”
“Without trust in the courts,” he warns, “American democracy does not stand a chance.”
Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’
Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows’ texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn’t want revealed were communications with his wife.
Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas’ 2020 election overthrow attempts.
Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions.
“Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component,” wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called him to express concern that telling Americans that such an influential figure had gone full-Q. Cheney was worried it would turn the whole committee into a political sideshow and overshadow all of the other work the committee was doing. The release of Riggleman’s book has left the committee members furiousover possible leaks after spending a year with so few.
Riggleman persisted in pressing Cheney to tell Americans about the Thomases.
“The committee needed to show the American people that there was an organized, violent effort to reverse the election—and that there were indications it could have been directed by the White House,” he wrote. “Thanks to their prominence, Ginni and Clarence would make a lot of headlines, but those headlines might overwhelm the other important work we were doing.”
The conversation with Cheney didn’t go well, with the two “type A personalities” duking-out their arguments. Riggleman argued that data wasn’t political. It wasn’t right or wrong.
“I also thought that, given Clarence’s position and Ginni’s prominence in conservative circles, the American public had to know what she had been up to,” argued Riggleman. “Some of the messages went beyond simply cheering Meadows on. It was legitimate for me to have concerns as to whether a Supreme Court justice had been involved in the legally questionable push to overturn the election. Was it possible that one of the country’s nine top judges was on board with an authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution? The implications were overwhelming. Cheney found it all improbable. I think she still had more faith in the institutional GOP than I did at that point.”
Riggleman’s book, The Breach, is on sale now and Raw Story has complete coverage here.
‘Doesn’t Get to Tell the County What They Can Read’: Lawmaker Blasts Christian in Viral Video Attacking LGBTQ Library Books
A Tennessee Democratic state lawmaker is responding to a viral video of a Christian woman in her home state railing against “perversion,” apparently upset with LGBTQ-themed books being in a local public library, while ranting about Satan and “revelation prophecies.”
Rep. Gloria Johnson, a retired special ed teacher, blasted the young woman who spoke in the video for about three minutes berating, lecturing, and preaching to her fellow Maury County, Tennessee residents about books she believes the public library should not have.
After introducing herself as “Stephanie” (her last name was not discernible), the young woman in the undated video declares, “I speak on behalf of God Almighty, my husband, the daughter in my womb and every law abiding God fearing taxpaying citizen here in Maury County.”
She admitted she is not from Maury County, but she did feel very comfortable telling Maury County locals what to do and think.
“We moved here from Indiana to start our family,” she said. “I will not raise kids in a county that has sexual oriented books on the counter,” she insisted, later stating, “My taxes pay [for] this place.”
“The kingdom of God is within reach,” Stephanie went on to preach. “It is within here and we live not for heaven but from heaven. What that means is when perversion permeates our county, that is when the devil gets our children. If you don’t see this you are blind. We must understand that there cannot be perversion in this county, in this country. Obviously revelation prophecies are occurring right before our eyes. But what you need to know first and foremost, that obviously the future generation is our children.”
By the end of her lengthy rant she decreed, “God sees everything and by the grace of God, we will rise above this, but I’m not gonna let my children be raised – I’m gonna homeschool, you better believe it. I will not let my children be raised in a county like this. If we’re having sexual oriented books. You can even ask the gay community, a lot of them say why would you want to bring kids to the bars? They already think of pedophilia, why would you want them to come to the bars?”
“Understand that you serve our country second. You serve our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob first,” she concluded.
She also flew into a false screed straight out of recent Fox News reports.
Saying, “I speak on behalf of millennials my generation,” she claimed, “We already have so many illegal aliens here who are bringing fentanyl they are killing our children, our youth.”
A right-wing think tank, the Cato Institute states: “Fentanyl is primarily trafficked by U.S. citizens.”
Rep. Johnson, who served in the Tennessee state House from 2013-2015, and is again serving, since 2019, also served up strong criticism against the woman in the video.
“She is welcome to monitor the books her children read, but she doesn’t get to tell the rest of the county what they can read,” Johnson tweeted.
Johnson is apparently a strong supporter of public libraries. This was posted to her Facebook page just days ago:
Watch the viral video below or at this link.
A Christian woman in Maury County, Tennessee argues against LGBTQ-themed books at her library and tells everyone they’re going to hell pic.twitter.com/F6McXs8Gs4
— Marjorie Gaylor Queen 🏳️🌈 (@Tim_Tweeted) September 28, 2022
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