Mississippi Senate Passes ‘Worst Religious Freedom Bill to Date,’ And Gov. Phil Bryant Has Indicated He’ll Sign ItÂ
The Mississippi Senate approved a sweeping anti-LGBT religious freedom bill late Wednesday. The bill heads back to the House for technical reasons but will soon be sent to the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has expressed support for it.Â
The Senate voted 31-17 to approve House Bill 1523, known as theÂ “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” which would allow individuals, businesses, government employees, nonprofits and other entities to discriminate against not only LGBT people, but also anyone who’s had extramarital sex, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Â
â€œThis legislation moves Mississippi backward, undermining equality for its residents and jeopardizing its ability to attract and retain fair-minded businesses,â€Â Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement prior to the bill’s passage. â€œGovernor Byrant should be paying close attention to the backlash against discrimination in Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a terrible anti-LGBT bill, and in North Carolina, where fair-minded people and the broader business community are calling on state leaders to repudiate and repeal the discriminatory law passed last week. Mississippiâ€™s economy and its reputation hang in the balance.â€
â€” Bryan Dorr (@BJDorr) March 30, 2016
Ben Needham, director of Project One America, an LGBT advocacy group in the Deep South, told BuzzFeed NewsÂ that HB 1523 is “probably the worst religious freedom bill to date.”Â
GOP Sen. Jenifer Branning, who introduced the bill, said it was drafted in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage last June.Â
â€œThis isn’t a bill to allow any type of discrimination at all. As a matter of fact, itâ€™s quite the opposite,” Branning said. “It’s about protecting the religious freedom of those who donâ€™t feel they can with a clean conscience assist a same-sex couple.”
Democratic Sen. Derrick Simmons, who’s black, spoke against the bill, invoking Mississippi’s long history of racial discrimination.Â
“Can we afford with Mississippi’s dark past, can we afford in 2016, to pass anything that can be construed as discrimination?” Simmons said. “People were actually taken brutally from their homes and they were killed based upon what some considered to be, ‘This is my religious belief’ based on â€˜We donâ€™t want any mixing of the races.'”Â
â€” Irish Lass (@irshlas74) March 30, 2016
Democratic Sen. John Hohrn, also black, cited three Bible verses that implore slaves to “obey their earthly masters.”Â
â€œThese are examples of how religion and how the Bible was used to justify slavery,” Hohrn said. “So what Iâ€™m saying to you today is that religion isnâ€™t always right about things, isnâ€™t always just about things, because people use religion. … We donâ€™t need to put another stain on Mississippi.”
HB 1523Â would bar the state from taking action against anyone who discriminates based on their belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman, that sexual relations should be reserved to such a union, or that “male” and “female” refer to someone’s “immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.”
More from HRC on some of the implications:Â
Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the childâ€™s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. As introduced, H.B. 1523 would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of â€œconversion therapy,â€ and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.
Furthermore, schools, employers and service providers could implement sex-specific dress and grooming standards, as well as refuse transgender people access to the appropriate sex-segregated facilities, consistent with their gender identity — all in conflict with the United States Department of Justiceâ€™s enforcement of federal law. H.B. 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.Â
â€” Andria K. Brown (@andriakbrown) March 30, 2016
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Trump Continues to Build the Jan. 6 Committee’s Case Against Him: Conservative
In a series of public hearings that began on Thursday night, June 9, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bipartisan select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection has been presenting an incredibly damning case against former President Donald Trump — showing how Trump and his authoritarian devotees took extreme measures to keep him in the White House despite the fact that he lost the 2020 election to now-President Joe Biden. Trump, 17 months into Biden’s presidency, continues to audaciously promote the Big Lie and falsely claim that the election was stolen from him. And according to Never Trump conservative Amanda Carpenter, Trump is still saying and doing things to build the committee’s case against him.
Carpenter, in a listicle published by the conservative website The Bulwark on June 21, lays out three ways in which Trump continues to prove that the committee’s arguments against him are spot on: (1) “Trump is still targeting Pence,” (2) “Trump is still defending the rioters,” and (3) “Trump is still using inciteful rhetoric.”
“Since the panel began its public hearings,” Carpenter argues, “Trump has responded by insisting the election was stolen from him, that former Vice President Mike Pence really had the power to keep Trump in office, and that Jan. 6th rioters are being unfairly prosecuted — all of which underscores the committee’s central point that the threat to democracy continues as Trump and his supporters still deny the outcome of the 2020 election and what took place on Jan. 6th. Trump may not be testifying to the committee, but his public reaction to the committee’s work should not be ignored. What Trump is saying basically makes him a witness against himself.”
When former Vice President Mike Pence refused to join Trump and his supporters in promoting the Big Lie, they were furious with him. The insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 believed that Pence had let Dear Leader down, and some of them even set up a hangman’s gallows while chanting, “Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence.”
Trump, Carpenter notes, angrily railed against Pence during a speech at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event on Friday, June 17. The former president told the Christian Right crowd, “Mike Pence had the chance to be great. He had the chance to be, frankly, historic. But just like Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike — and I say it sadly because I like him — but Mike did not have the courage to act.”
During that June 17 speech, Carpenter adds, Trump vigorously defended the January 6, 2021 rioters.
Trump told attendees, “January 6 defendants are having their lives totally destroyed and (are) being treated worse than terrorists and murderers, despite most being charged with parading through the Capitol. Most people should not be treated the way they are being treated. And if I become president, someday, if I decide to do it, I will be looking at them very, very seriously for pardons. Very, very seriously.”
Carpenter points out that in December 2020, Gabriel Sterling — a conservative Republican and election official in Georgia — warned that inflammatory MAGA rhetoric could lead to violence. Sterling feared, “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed — which, Carpenter laments, is “just what happened on Jan. 6th.” And she warns that Trump’s rhetoric hasn’t grown any less inflammatory since then.
In a 12-page response to one of the January 6 committee’s hearings, Trump wrote, “Democrats created the narrative of January 6th to detract from the much larger and more important truth that the 2020 Election was Rigged and Stolen…. This entire charade of the Unselect Committee is a brazen attempt to detract the public’s attention from the truth. The truth is that Americans showed up in Washington, D.C. in massive numbers (but seldom revealed by the press), on January 6th, 2021, to hold their elected officials accountable for the obvious signs of criminal activity throughout the Election. Those who are supposed to be public servants are using the power of government against the people who entrusted them with the power. We’ve been betrayed.”
Sterling is among the witnesses who is testifying for the January 6 committee.
“If he’d like to talk about Trump’s inciteful rhetoric and pressure on Republican officials,” Carpenter observes, “he doesn’t have to stick to events that took place before Jan. 6th. Trump keeps giving us more examples.”
‘I Can’t Imagine a Better Turnout Engine’: CNN Conservative Warns GOP About Roe Ruling Blowback
On CNN Saturday afternoon, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp insisted the Supreme Court ruling dismantling Roe v Wade after 50 years of allowing women to make choices about their reproductive freedom no matter where they live, will come back the haunt the Republican Party in the 2022 midterms.
As Cupp explained, combined with the battle over gun laws, the unpopular 6-3 decision by the conservative court could be a defining issue that increases voter turnout that will, in turn, cripple GOP efforts to reclaim both chambers of Congress.
Speaking with CNN hosts Christ Paul and Boris Sanchez, Cupp insisted the past week’s news has benefitted Democrats as they make their case for November 2022 and beyond.
“Yeah, I think the Roe ruling was a huge — they [Republicans] might like the outcome, but politically I can’t imagine a better turnout engine than this ruling for democrats,” Cupp claimed. “And you can make the argument that the Republicans’ legislative victories and the Supreme Court victory by a conservative court are regressive, they’re taking us backwards. Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny the fact that they’re going backwards, right? They’re taking us back to a different time when these weren’t rights.”
“Republicans are banning books,” she continued. “I mean, it really does feel anachronistic where the country is, so I think that’s a good message for Democrats.”
“You know, look, the economy is still going to be a huge driver for the election but I absolutely think the Democrats got a big boost from both of these rulings, I feel like, and they needed it, politically,” she added.
Marjorie Taylor Greene Flees Supreme Court Protest After Gloating About Abortion Ruling
Far-right Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was rushed by her staff away from the protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday as angry pro-choice protesters yelled at her.
Greene celebrated the court’s decision overturning abortion rights nationwide. Smiling and stating, she said, “I am so happy. It’s a blessing. It’s a miracle.” Then, acknowledging the angry protestors, she said, “I think we have to worry about the radical left. They’re going to perform an insurrection here at the Supreme Court.”
Greene, a dependable troll, has used the word “insurrection” to describe any angry gathering of left-wing protesters. Meanwhile, she considers the actual insurrectionists arrested for ransacking the U.S. Capitol and trying to overthrow the 2020 presidential election “political prisoners.”
.@RepMTG outside the Supreme Court reacting to the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade: "I am so happy. It's a blessing. It's a miracle." https://t.co/xPU1cZIXui
video: @emilybrooksnews pic.twitter.com/OQH4OefTHR
— The Hill (@thehill) June 24, 2022
Greene’s celebratory moment was punctuated, however, by her staff rushing her off to a protected spot as protesters angrily shouted, “You are a traitor!” and “Lock her up!” One woman, holding an American flag and facemask tried shoving her way toward Greene while screaming, “My body, my choice!”
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) June 24, 2022
Greene later told The Hill that the court’s decision was “courageous,” adding, “It’s just taking it back to the states, giving the right back to the states to make their own laws regarding abortion, which is extremely important.”
An estimated 17 states are set to outlaw abortions soon after this ruling. Their criminalization will all but guarantee increased poverty for the poorest gestational parents carrying unwanted pregnancies as well as terrorist actions against abortion providers in adjoining states.
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