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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Fulton County DA Slams Lindsey Graham’s Efforts to Avoid Testifying: Causing ‘Substantial Injury’ to Grand Jury
Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is punching back hard at U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s efforts to avoid testifying to the Special Purpose Grand Jury (SPGJ) investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Politico’s Kyle Cheney points to a new court filing in which Willis urges the judge to not indulge Graham’s efforts to delay.
A stay would “significantly harm” and “result in substantial injury to the Special Purpose Grand Jury,” Willis warns. She calls Graham’s testimony “crucial,” and notes that Graham has already delayed the grand jury’s work by six weeks by filing motions in “three separate jurisdictions.”
Granting Graham’s request “will ensure that the Senator’s involvement with the SPGJ will not be resolved for months.”
She notes on Monday U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May denied Graham’s attempt to delay his testimony, but on Wednesday Graham filed an emergency motion to get the court to grant his request.
In her conclusion she eloquently reminds Sen. Graham and the judge what the law is about.
“Senator Graham insists that he seeks to delay his appearance before the Special Purpose Grand Jury not just for his own sake, but also for the sake of the separation of powers, federalism, and ‘for the People,'” Willis writes. “The Special Purpose Grand Jury, however, is the People: a collection of citizens called together to perform their civic duty on behalf of their neighbors and families. They have sacrificed their time, effort, energy, and attention for months in order to investigate matters that affect themselves, their community, and the nation as a whole. The District Attorney asks that this Court deny Senator Graham’s motion in order that he, for a single day, can assist them in that great task without further delay. The People have requested Senator Graham’s testimony and stand ready to receive it. All that is left is for the Senator to meet them.”
Willis also explains exactly why the grand jury needs his testimony.
“As this Court recognized in its Order, Senator Graham’s testimony is sought by the SPGJ not simply because he possesses necessary and material information but also because he is expected to provide information regarding additional sources of relevant information,” Willis tells the court. “As a result, delaying the Senator’s testimony would not simply postpone his appearance; it would also delay the revelation of an entire category of relevant witnesses or information, each of whom would require additional time and resources to secure on behalf of the SPGJ.”
On Monday, Judge May wrote: “Senator Graham has direct personal knowledge of conversations with Georgia election officials which have been the subject of public dispute as to the nature of his inquiries and requests, including any implicit or overt suggestions to discard ballots or otherwise alter the election results.”
Judge May added, “the District Attorney described Senator Graham as a ‘necessary and material witness in [the Special Purpose Grand Jury] investigation’ not only because of his personal knowledge of the phone calls with Georgia election officials, but also because he possesses ‘unique knowledge’ concerning ‘the Trump Campaign and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.’”
George Conway Exposes Three Games Trump’s Lawyers Are Playing With FBI Affidavit
Multiple media outlets have asked a judge to unseal the affidavit that justified the search, and Trump and his lawyers have publicly called for that evidence to be revealed — but Conway told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that it’s telling that they haven’t joined the request in court.
“Chances are good that while they would like to know the names of now two, possibly two people inside calling, you know — the call coming from inside the house,” said host Joe Scarborough. “Maybe there are two people now inside of Mar-A-Lago or inside of Trumpworld informing on him.”
“Donald Trump will do what Rudy does outside of courthouses and howl and make a scene,” Scarborough added. “But go inside the courtroom and stay silent. What Republicans in Washington, D.C. know, and I had friends tell me a couple days ago, it’s one of the reasons this IRS conspiracy theory started, is when they figured out how bad this is going to be for Trump. They’re trying to change the subject.”
Conway said Trump’s attorneys were essentially juggling three balls in the air.
“They’re trying to have it three ways,” he said. “They’re being mendaciously three-faced about it. First of all, they themselves would like to see the affidavit because, you know, Tony Soprano wants to know who is the rat. They want to see who is finking on them. That’s one. Two is, they don’t want us to see the affidavit because it’s bad. It’s a long affidavit, and it is going to have a lot of information about a lot of people saying a lot of bad things about the bad things that the president, the former president of the United States, did and how he squirrelled away these documents and refused to give them back when he was repeatedly told he had to give them back and was subpoenaed to return them. Then, third, they want an issue, a B.S. issue, so they can send out the fundraising grift emails to raise money by saying, ‘Oh, they’re hiding the affidavit from us.'”
Watch the video below or at this link.
Florida Christian School Warns Parents All LGBTQ Students ‘Will Be Asked to Leave Immediately’
Citing the Book of Leviticus a Florida K-12 private Christian school is telling parents any student found to be LGBTQ will be asked to leave “immediately.”
NBC News reports it “obtained an email from the Grace Christian School in Valrico, about 20 miles east of Tampa, sent before the beginning of the school year by Administrator Barry McKeen.”
The school’s email lumps being LGBTQ, or engaging in acts including “bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography” as “lifestyles.”
“We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgender identity/lifestyle, self-identification, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery and pornography are sinful in the sight of God and the church (Genesis 2:24; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; I Corinthians 5:1; I Corinthians 6:9; I Thessalonians 4:2-7),” the email reads. “Students who are found participating in these lifestyles will be asked to leave the school immediately,”
NBC News says the “June 6 correspondence to parents cited scripture and said that students will be referred to by the ‘gender on their birth certificates’ during the school year beginning this month. While the email refers to ‘biological gender,’ the National Institute of Health defines ‘gender’ as a social construct, as opposed to ‘sex,’ which is the biological difference between females and males.”
On its website Grace Christian says annual fees are up to $6595, plus items including books and other fees.
“It is our desire to provide the best Christian education and training for ALL children, for God is not a respecter of persons,” Grace Christian says. It calls “humanism, materialism, secularism, and New Age” philosophies “godless.”
The school’s website also says, “Students are only admitted when the administration believes that the parents and their church are in full support of the purposes and policies of the School. Expressions of dissention or lack of support for the School’s mission, policies, or leadership are grounds for dismissal of any students of a family in which such action occurs.”
“ALL STUDENTS are expected to abide by rules set forth by the administration. Attendance at Grace Christian School is considered a privilege and not a right. Students forfeit this privilege if they do not conform to the standards and ideals set forth by the administration. The school may insist on the withdrawal of any student that, in the opinion of the administration, does not conform to the spirit of the ministry.”
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