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Texas Lawmaker Working to Write Anti-LGBT Discrimination Into State Constitution

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Right-Wing Rep. Matt Krause is Undeterred by Economic Backlash in North Carolina

Despite economic backlash over House Bill 2 in North Carolina, one right-wing Texas lawmaker wants to write anti-LGBT discrimination into the state Constitution. 

And Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is signaling that he would sign the measure if it passes the House and Senate. 

Texas already has a strong Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the government form substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion unless it has a compelling interest. 

GOP Rep. Matt Krause (shown above with Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he supports for president) is an attorney who previously worked for Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT hate group, and has compared gays to Nazis. Last year, Krause authored a proposal to remove the word “substantially” from the law, and enshrine it in the Constitution. Now, in the wake of overwhelming opposition from businesses to anti-LGBT bills in North Carolina and Georgia, Krause is vowing to introduce his proposed amendment to the state constitution when the Texas Legislature meets again in 2017. Only one other state in the nation, Alabama, has an RFRA in its Constitution. 

“Nobody should be forced to go against their conscience or religious beliefs,” Krause told The Austin Statesman. 

Gov. Abbott’s press secretary, John Wittman, told the Statesman: “To imply that religious liberty cannot be protected without hurting a business’ bottom line is inherently false and goes against the principles our country was founded on. Gov. Abbott has always sought to protect and expand religious liberty and economic freedom in Texas, and he looks forward to continuing that work in the 85th legislative session.”

In addition to sanctioning anti-LGBT discrimination, experts say Krause’s measure would open the door to a host of unintended consequences, such as domestic abusers using it as a defense to criminal charges; medical professionals refusing to provide life-saving treatments based on their beliefs; and workers being fired for violating the tenets of an employer’s faith. 

“A lot of lawyers would say that the word ‘substantial’ has some real meaning to it, and that dropping it means that you’re going to give any litigant the right to say, ‘I feel burdened,’ and that will be that with regard to forcing the state to show the compelling interest,” said Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas. “If that’s not what you’re out to do, then I’m not sure what the point of the amendment would be, because the state RFRA seems to be quite strong, so why do we need this?” 

The Texas Association of Business, the state’s chamber of commerce, opposed Krause’s measure last year and is already speaking out against any potential anti-LGBT legislation in 2017. 

“We certainly don’t want Texas to appear to be unwelcoming for future talent, and that’s what I think we’ll get if something like North Carolina’s bill is taken up by our Legislature,” TAB President Chris Wallace told The Texas Observer. 

Seven hundred of the state’s employers, including 30 from the Fortune 500, have joined the pro-LGBT coalition Texas Competes. 

“In how many states does this have to happen before it becomes clear that legislation that goes this far, that extremist legislation that specifically targets LGBT people for discrimination, is something that has negative consequences from an economic and a business standpoint?” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. 

 

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News

Raphael Warnock Beats Trump-Backed Herschel Walker – Democrats Increase Senate Majority

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Millions of Americans in Georgia voted to re-elect Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock and send him back to Washington D.C., NBC News projects. It is a clear mandate for the policies enacted by the Biden administration and a strong rebuke for the flailing former president, Donald Trump.

Senator Warnock faced a challenge from a Texas Republican who claimed to live in the Peach State, Trump-backed former NFL star Herschel Walker.

The New York Times, confirming Warnock is the projected winner, reports a huge number of Georgians, more than 3.3 million, voted in the runoff election.

An admitted Texas resident, Walker’s long list of hypocritical claims and actions, falsehoods, lies, and troubling business and tax dealings were only outweighed by the women who accused him of violent behavior, pressuring them and paying for them to get abortions, and revelations he had not one child but four, including a son he almost never sees.

READ MORE: ‘Everything Has Been a Lie’: Christian Walker Drops Damning New Video Blasting His Father’s ‘Lies’ Over Abortion

Warnock, who is also the Senior Pastor at the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, out-raised and out-campaigned Walker, especially in the last week.

Herschel Walker appeared at only two events this weekend, Politico reported, “a tailgate in Atlanta before a University of Georgia football game on Saturday, where he did not speak, and a Sunday rally in Loganville, where his stump speech touched on everything from complaints about pronouns and critical race theory to funding law enforcement.”

With 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats will not be forced into a power-sharing agreement with Republicans as they were two years ago. President Biden will be able to nominate and have confirmed even more judges, an area he has excelled. And Democrats will have full committee majorities, giving them power to issue subpoenas in investigations.

RELATED: ‘The Child Would Not Be Safe’: Woman Who Says Herschel Walker Pressured Her to Have Abortion Says She Felt ‘Threatened’

The Washington Post on Tuesday noted that Democrats having 51 votes is “an insurance policy against the unthinkable — the possibility that vacancies or party switches could flip the majority. That has happened before, most recently in 2001. The reason that it hasn’t happened more often is mostly because the Senate isn’t usually this closely divided. But vacancies and seat flips do happen — a lot. In fact, since World War II, about 70 percent of Congresses have featured some kind of shift in partisan balance of the Senate between elections.”

The unthinkable includes the possibility that a Democratic Senator in a state headed by a Republican governor could resign or die, allowing a Republican to be installed in their place. As The Post notes, there are 11 cases currently where that could happen.

Warnock unseated a GOP Senator in a 2020 special election, making this his first full elected six-year term.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain notes President Biden “becomes the first President since FDR 1934 to see every Senator in his party re-elected (who was seeking re-election.)”

 

 

 

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CRIME

Guilty on All Counts: Trump Organization Loses Big in Criminal Fraud Case

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A jury has found thew crown jewel of Donald Trump’s real estate empire, The Trump Organization, guilty on all counts in a state criminal tax fraud case.

Calling it “a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its ‘culture of fraud and deception,'” The New York Times reports the details include “conviction on all 17 counts.”

Charges include tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, and conspiracy and falsifying business records, but The Times says it is “hardly a death sentence for the Trump Organization.”

The Times adds the conviction comes “after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan,” which “resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.”

Donald Trump was not a defendant in the case, but the case will be front and center during his presidential run.

According to a press release from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. were convicted of the following charges:

  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Criminal Tax Fraud in Third Degree, a class D felony, two counts
  • Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, three counts

The Trump Corporation was also convicted of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony.

MSNBC reported the verdict on-air:

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

Image via Shutterstock

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News

Watch: McConnell Refuses to Say He Will Not Support Trump for President Even After ‘Terminate the Constitution’ Demand

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Even after Donald Trump called for the “termination” of the U.S. Constitution this weekend and demanded he be put back into office or be given a do-over national presidential election, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to say he will not support the ex-president’s current run for the White House.

McConnell kicked off his weekly press conference Tuesday by mildly criticizing Trump, although not mentioning him by name.

“First, let me just say that anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of United States,” McConnell told reporters.

But when asked if he “categorically” would refuse to support Trump – personally or in his role as Senate Republican Minority Leader – McConnell refused to go that far.

READ MORE: Watch: McConnell and McCarthy Shunned as Congressional Gold Medal Recipients Refuse to Shake Their Hands

“This is the second week in a row you’ve come out to begin your press conference criticizing Donald Trump,” a reporter off-camera said. “Can you say categorically that you do not support him if he were the Republican nominee?”

McConnell could not.

“What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in, to the presidency, if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution. That’s what I said, and I just said it again,” McConnell stated.

“How about your personal support?” the reporter shot back.

McConnell ignored the question.

During the 2016 campaign Trump also made clear he did not feel beholden to upholding the Constitution, so it’s unclear why McConnell would suggest he could not be sworn in again should he be elected in 2024.

READ MORE: Far Right Republican Slammed by Raskin for Trying to Derail Respect for Marriage Bill with Failed Religious Amendment

In fact, Trump’s concerning remarks surrounding the Constitution in 2016 led Brown University political science professor Corey Brettschneider to pen a piece for Politico: “Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide.”

“It may be true that Donald Trump has read the Constitution. But it’s unclear if he understands it,” it begins.

McConnell is not only the second longest serving leader of a party’s caucus in the Senate, nor his he just the Senate Republican Minority Leader.

He wields massive power and influence via his ties to a Super PAC.

According to CNN, the Senate Leadership Fund is “a super PAC affiliated with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

This year alone, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent nearly $300 million to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate. In 2020 it spent over $475 million.

Many have seen their ads, which are almost entirely, according to Open Secrets, against Democrats, not for Republicans.

Watch McConnell below or at this link.

 

 

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