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Georgia Lawmakers Send Contentious Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill to Governor’s Desk

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Legislation Designed to ‘Protect’ Religious People and Businesses From LGBT People

Georgia lawmakers in both chambers Wednesday night completed several votes on HB 757, now called the “Free Exercise Protection Act,” a bill two years in the making that will legalize discrimination against same-sex couples under the guise of protecting religious liberty.

Despite impassioned opposition by Democrats, the bill passed by huge margins, mostly on party lines. In the House the vote was 104-65, and in the Senate, 37-18.

HB 757, also called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is one of dozens of so-called “religious freedom” bills that incorrectly often claim to “mirror” the federal Religious Freedom Protection Act, that have been pushed in state legislatures across the nation. They are all direct responses to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In addition to restating the First Amendment right that pastors and other religious clerics cannot be legally forced to solemnize any marriage which they oppose, HB 757, sponsored by GOP Senator Greg Kirk (photo), does much more.

It provides legal cover for “faith based organizations” to refuse services “that violate such faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” It allows them to refuse to “rent, lease, or otherwise grant permission for property to be used by another person for an event which is objectionable to such faith based organization.”

One particularly dangerous section of the bill says “no faith based organization shall be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.”

Wednesday’s votes came with little notice, yet another example of Republicans’ attempts to force the bill’s passage. Last month they refused to allow any amendments to the bill whatsoever.

The legislation is opposed by LGBT civil rights groups, including Georgia Unites and HRC, business groups including the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and a coalition of over 450 businesses, including Salesforce, Delta, Microsoft, Virgin, and 373K.

Georgia Democrats Wednesday night slammed GOP lawmakers, saying the “resulting litigation from this move will clog our courts, paralyze our economy, and drain our business community dry. HB 757 is a short-sighted move by Republicans that will have consequences for years to come.”

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has said he would not sign any bill that supports discrimination, but has not voiced an opinion on the bill that was passed Wednesday night. 

It now awaits his signature or veto.

 

 

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CRIME

Trumps Could ‘Turn on One Another’ as Investigations ‘Go Up the Food Chain’: MSNBC Analyst

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Former president Donald Trump and his family are facing “existential” threats from ongoing criminal investigations in New York and Georgia, according to MSNBC political analyst and Trump biographer Tim O’Brien.

“I think you’re going to start to see this vice squeeze in,” O’Brien said Saturday. “The Trumps will happily throw underlings under the bus as this gets hotter. I think the question is whether or not the family members will turn on one another as it goes up the food chain.”

“The Manhattan DA’s case has existential consequences to it,” O’Brien added. “Donald Trump and perhaps his children could end up in orange jumpsuits if that case goes the full route. That’s not going to be the case with (New York AG) Letitia James’ prosecution, that’s a civil case. I also think the Georgia case has an existential threat. Donald Trump acting like a 19th-century ward heeler, called up the secretary of state and said find me some votes, and there’s proof of that, there’s evidence.”

Watch the full interview below.

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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'TRYING TO OUT-TRUMP TRUMP'

Ron DeSantis Pounded by WaPo Editorial Board for Latest Attempt to ‘Poison Democracy’

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In a scathing opinion piece on Saturday morning, the editorial board of the Washington Post trashed Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for his plan to create an “election police squad” that board suggests will be used to disrupt elections and scare voters away.

According to the board, the DeSantis proposal reeks of Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn election results at the state level with them labeling the Florida Republican’s efforts a deliberate move to “poison democracy.”

Pointing out that DeSantis wants the Florida legislature to “pony up $6 million to hire 52 people for his election police squad — which, naturally, would be under the governor’s control and would investigate allegations of election crimes submitted by “government officials or any other persons,” the editors then warned, “If Mr. Trump had his way, government investigators would no doubt be impounding Dominion Voting Systems election machines and grilling election officials in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania based on outlandish allegations about the 2020 vote. Whether Florida’s voting cops would field tips from partisans acting in bad faith or dupes who really believe that fraud is ubiquitous in U.S. elections, it is not hard to foresee them harassing election officials or voting rights groups who are simply trying to help people to vote.”

The editors added, “Mr. DeSantis’s proposal would be similar to an anti-voting law Texas lawmakers passed recently, which would threaten election workers with criminal penalties for transgressions as mild as proactively offering voters mail-in ballot applications. In both cases, the effect is to intimidate people into thinking twice about doing anything they fear state authorities might construe as illegal.”

They then concluded, “Mr. DeSantis, trying to rise from the former president’s shadow, looks as though he is trying to out-Trump Mr. Trump. Both seek to cater to a GOP base among whom fake allegations of fraud are not just believed, but considered a critical national crisis… Proposals such as Mr. DeSantis’s would only work to poison America’s democracy.”

You can read more here.

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'MARGINALLY'

‘Why Is That So Hard to Answer?’: GOP Candidate Squirms as CNN Host Forces Him to Admit Trump Lost

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A Republican congressional candidate from Alaska finally conceded that former president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election on Friday — but not until after being asked the question no fewer than four times by CNN host Alisyn Camerota.

Camerota was following up on a story about another candidate for Alaska’s only House seat, Greg Brelsford, who recently left the GOP to become an Independent, citing “attacks on democracy.”

On Friday, she interviewed GOP candidate Randy Purham.

“So you heard one of your opponents, who was saying that basically he’s tired of all the re-litigating of Donald Trump’s election loss,” Camerota told Purham. “Are you one of the Republicans he was speaking of who believes Donald Trump did not lose the 2020 presidential election?”

“I’m not going to say that he did not lose, but we realize there are some irregularities with the election,” Purham responded, before Camerota cut him off.

READ MORE: Typo-filled Trump voting machine order likely written by one of his ‘lunatic friends’: legal expert

“Just to be clear, do you think he lost?” the host said.

“Marginally,” Purham responded.

“But you believe that Donald Trump lost the election, and Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States?”

“To a degree,” Purham said.

“Why is that so hard to answer?” Camerota asked.

“It’s not hard to answer,” Purham responded. “There’s a lot of issues that we’ve seen with the election, and we see how things are turning out right now with this administration, so —”

“But that’s different, Mr. Purham,” Camerota said, again cutting him off. “That’s different if you don’t like certain policies in the administration, it’s different than whether or not you can say definitively that Donald Trump lost and Joe Biden won.”

“I can, and I have,” Durham said, finally appearing to acknowledge Trump’s defeat.

Watch below.

 

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