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Anti-LGBT Activist Group Pushing Congress to Pass Sweeping First Amendment ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

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First Amendment Defense Act Would Allow People and Companies Who Claim Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs to Discriminate Against LGBT People

Bills that have sat languishing in the House and Senate may find new life if efforts by the National Organization For Marriage (NOM) are successful. The faith-based anti-LGBT organization is campaigning for congressional lawmakers to hold hearings on and pass the First Amendment Defense Act. FADA would protect any person, group, organization, company, or corporation that claims to have a sincerely held religious belief about LGBT people, same-sex couples, and marriage, from obeying laws designed to provide protection in those areas to LGBT people and other minorities.

NOM Friday afternoon emailed supporters asking them again to participate in their “Fax For FADA campaign.” President Brian Brown claims the campaign is working.

“I am getting good reports from Washington, DC that our Fax For FADA campaign is making a big impact. Word is that the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) will be scheduled for a hearing very soon. Our faxes to the House Republican leadership and members of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee are having an impact!”

Like nearly everything NOM does, those claims are subject to interpretation. And, of course, this is also a fundraising drive for them. NOM provides no statistics on how many faxes (people still have fax machines?) they have sent, or the name(s) of their sources, of course. There’s a corresponding petition they claim has 3333 signatures.

The First Amendment Defense Act “prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage,” according to a summary. 

The bills, if passed, literally would give license to anyone to refuse to interact with, serve or do business with any adult who is not in a different-sex monogamous marriage, unless they can prove they are not having or have not ever had sex.

The bills were introduced by two Republicans last year, Senator Mike Lee (Utah) (photo, right) and Rep. Raul Labrador (Idaho) (photo, left).

They has 38 sponsors – all Republicans – in the Senate and 167 sponsors in the House, including two Democrats: Rep. Ralph Abraham (Louisiana), and Rep. Daniel Lipinski (Illinois).

 

 

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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

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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.

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'ARE YOU KIDDING?!'

Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human

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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.”

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'A WAR FOR AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY'

Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat

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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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