Measure Allows Adoption Agencies To Turn Away Same-Sex Couples Based On Religious Beliefs
South Dakota Republican Gov. Dennis DaugaardÂ on Friday signed a “religious freedom” adoption bill, making the state the first to enact anti-LGBT legislation in 2017.Â
The bill allows taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse services to LGBT people â€” such as by declining to place children with same-sex couples â€” if it would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. Senate Bill 149Â also opens the door to religious-based discrimination against single parents, interracial couples, non-Christians and others.Â
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, reported this week that it is now tracking more than 100 anti-LGBT bills in state legislatures this year.Â
â€œThis is the first anti-LGBTQ bill that any state has signed into law this session,” HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement Friday. “Governor Daugaardâ€™s action not only puts the best interests of the more than a thousand vulnerable children served by South Dakota’s foster care system at risk, it signals the potential of a dark new reality for the fight for LGBTQ rights.â€
The ACLU of South Dakota said it is already exploring legal challenges to SB 149,Â encouraging families and children who are negatively affected by the law to come forward. The group also alluded to potentialÂ economic backlash.Â
“In a state facing a labor and talent shortage, this bill has sparked national interest and local questions as to whether South Dakota welcomes diversity and values the rights of individual citizens,” the ACLU said.Â
According to the Associated Press, Daugaard said before signing the bill that he was “concerned private child-placement agencies acting in the best interest of a child could be subject to a lawsuit when denying placement to someone in a “protected class,” such as members of the LGBT community.” Â
Last year, Daugaard vetoed an anti-trans bathroom bill after meeting with children who would have been affected, saying they â€œput a human faceâ€ on the issue and helped him see it â€œthrough their eyes.â€
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Jan. 6 Committee Releases Report Recommending Criminal Contempt of Congress Against Ex-Trump DOJ Official
The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has just released a massive 22-page report against the former DOJ official who attempted to assist then-President Donald Trump in overturning the results of the November 2020 election. That report urges Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the full House to find Jeffrey Bossert Clark in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply.
“The Chairman of the Select Committee repeatedly advised Mr. Clark that his claims of privilege are not well-founded and did not absolve him of his obligation to produce documents and provide deposition testimony,” the report reads. “The Chairman repeatedly warned Mr. Clark that his continued non-compliance would put him in jeopardy of a vote to refer him to the House to consider a criminal contempt referral. Mr. Clark’s failure to testify or produce responsive documents in the face of this clear advisement and warning by the Chairman constitutes a willful failure to comply with the subpoena.”
If the full House votes to refer Clark to the Dept. of Justice he could be prosecuted for criminal contempt.
“According to documents and testimony gathered by the Select Committee, in the weeks leading up to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Jeffrey Bossert Clark participated in efforts to delegitimize the results of the 2020 presidential election and delay or interrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the damning report adds. “As detailed in a report issued by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (hereinafter ‘‘Senate Report’’) and press accounts, after numerous courts throughout the United States had resoundingly rejected alleged voter fraud challenges to the election results by the Trump campaign, and after all states had certified their respective election results, Mr. Clark proposed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) send a letter to officials of the State of Georgia and other States suggesting that they call special legislative sessions to investigate allegations of voter fraud and consider appointing new slates of electors.”
In violation of DOJ policy and after a direct admonition from the Acting Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Clark also met with White House officials, including then-President Trump, to discuss efforts to delegitimize, disrupt, or overturn the election results. To further these efforts, President Trump considered installing Mr. Clark as the Acting Attorney General, a plan that was abandoned only after much of the DOJ leadership team and the White House Coun- sel threatened to resign if Mr. Clark was appointed.
The House is expected to vote on referring Clark to DOJ for prosecution Wednesday.
DOJ is now prosecuting former Trump advisor Steve Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
Jan. 6 Committee Just Interviewed Top Georgia Elections Official Trump Threatened When Urging to Find Him More Votes
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has just concluded more than four hours of interviewing Georgia’s top elections official, Brad Raffensperger. Then-President Donald Trump threatened the Republican Secretary of State in a telephone call, parts of which were released to the press, during which the desperate losing Trump infamously said, “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”
Speaking to Raffensperger indicates the House Committee is investigating the origins of the insurrection far beyond its D.C. roots.
“We talked about that and everything else leading into the election. That was their focus, because that was where the greatest disinformation was foisted upon our nation,” Raffensperger told The Atlanta Journal Constitution Tuesday.
Back in February Georgia prosecutors had reportedly opened up a criminal investigation into Trump’s demand Raffensperger find him 11,780 more votes. Despite the recorded audio evidence no charges are known to have been filed against Trump for what some say could be criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.
Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State nearly 20 times before the now-infamous call during which he threatened Raffensperger. On the 19th call Trump spoke to Raffensperger for nearly one hour. That call was recorded by Raffensperger’s staff.
A Christian Anti-LGBT Hate Group Designed Mississippi Abortion Ban to ‘Eradicate’ Roe – SCOTUS Is About to Hear the Case
In January 2018, Right Wing Watch broke the story that lawyers for religious-right legal giant Alliance Defending Freedom bragged at an anti-choice conference that the 15-week abortion ban that had been introduced in Mississippi was based on ADF’s model language. ADF lawyers said the law was the next step in the group’s strategic plan to “eradicate” Roe v. Wade through the courts.
Now, nearly four years later, legal challenges to the Mississippi law have made their way to the Supreme Court, which will hear Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Religious-right groups hope that the court’s right-wing justices will use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to criminalize abortion outright. The Supreme Court could also make Roe “irrelevant” without formally reversing it.
ADF is using the hearing to raise money. In a fundraising Monday morning email, the group told supporters that the court could use Dobbs to overturn Roe. Last week, ADF sent a fundraising pitch that offered supporters a chance to download its “Generational Wins Prayer Guide” for the Dobbs case. (ADF also hopes to achieve a “generational win” that would overturn marriage equality for same-sex couples.)
On Thanksgiving, Intercessors for America, a network of right-wing pastors and religious-right activists, called Dobbs “the most crucial Supreme Court case in 45 years.” On Thursday and again on Friday, it urged its supporters to sign its “emergency pro-lie amicus brief” as a “citizen co-sponsor.” IFA wrote, “Let the Supreme Court know that while abortion may be the law of the land now, but with the power of prayer we can overcome!”
The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, called the Dobbs case a “chance at redemption” for the court in a Monday email.
ADF’s Monday email bragged about the record number of legal briefs that were filed in support of the Mississippi abortion ban. The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the National Association of Evangelicals are among the many religious-right groups signing amicus briefs urging the Court to overturn Roe and allow states to criminalize abortion. Joining them is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Family Research Council hosted and streamed a two-hour event from a Jackson, Mississippi, church Sunday night that was emceed by FRC President Tony Perkins and featured an array of anti-choice religious and political leaders praying that the Court would overturn Roe. ADF President Mike Farris and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser joined the broadcast from the steps of the Supreme Court, where Farris prayed that the justices would not ask Mississippi’s lawyers any questions they had not prepared for. Anti-choice activist Tina Whittington prayed about the importance of young people “engaging with our government to see Heaven’s values on life rule in our land.”
Among the other speakers was California-based pastor Jack Hibbs, an associate of Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and an ardent Trump supporter. This summer, Hibbs preached that President Joe Biden should be court-martialed and removed from office; a month earlier he asked God to forgive Californians for electing “people with antichrist” worldviews “like Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris.” Hibbs said on Sunday night that Dobbs case “will define whether God remains in this nation or not.”
Also joining the FRC broadcast were anti-abortion extremist Flip Benham and his grandson, anti-choice activist Alveda King, and former Rep. Michele Bachmann, dean of the school of government at Pat Robertson’s Regent University and chair of FRC’s board of directors. Speaking of the Supreme Court, Bachmann said, “But Father, these men are but dust. One day these justices, men and women, their knees will bow, their tongues will confess that you are Lord.”
Some religious-right activists believe that Justice Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed by Senate Republicans just days before voters rejected Donald Trump, was anointed by God to lead the Supreme Court in overturning Roe. Among them was dominionist Lou Engle, who wrote this month that he believes that “God is looking for the Church to respond at this moment, standing with Him in the court of heaven to release a decision in favor of His saints. The ekklesia on earth must agree with the Divine Counsel of Heaven.”
Engle celebrated that the three justices nominated by Trump have created an anti-choice majority on the court, but he warned that those justices are coming under spiritual attack by “demonic forces.” Engle called on his supporters to wage spiritual warfare to “bind these five conservative judges into a coalition of conscience from which they cannot get free.”
Before joining the high court, Barrett was paid at least five times to speak at conferences for recipients of ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship. Right Wing Watch noted in May, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs:
During the Trump administration, religious-right leaders and activists repeatedly prayed for God to “remove” Supreme Court justices to give Trump the ability to name justices to the court who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Last year, Frank Amedia, founder of the dominionist pro-Trump network POTUS Shield, celebrated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death as a “move of God” that would allow Trump to fulfill prophecies that he would be given three Supreme Court nominations to fill.
When Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the 15-week ban, he said that he wanted his state to be the “safest place in America for an unborn child.” In the Family Research Council broadcast Sunday night, current Gov. Tate Reeves echoed that sentiment, saying that when he was running for governor, he made a commitment to God “that I would do everything in my power to make our state the safest state in the nation for an unborn child.” And he told the audience, “We’re gonna fight together to make this nation the safest place in the world for an unborn child.”
As I noted at the time, when Bryant signed the law, Mississippi was by many measures the least safe state in America for women, infants, and children:
MS Gov Phil Bryant signs 15-week abortion ban, wants Mississippi to be “safest place in America for an unborn child.” MS ranks 50th in health of women, 50th in health of children, 50th in health of infants, 1st in infant mortality. #priorities
— Peter Montgomery (@petemont) March 20, 2018
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
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