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Democratic Lawmaker Says Florida Gov. Scott Used Zika, Hurricane as Excuses to Not Sign Promised LGBT Protections

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Activists Say Rick Scott Promised an Executive Order After Pulse. It’s Been a Year, but No Action.

A Democratic state lawmaker is blasting Florida‘s Republican governor, Rick Scott, for what he says is a “broken promise” to enact protections for the LGBT community. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, who formerly worked as a governmental affairs manager for the LGBT civil rights group Equality Florida, says after the terror attack on Orlando’s Pulse the governor promised to protect LGBT people. Now, Rep. Guillermo-Smith says the governor has reneged on the promise of a nondiscrimination order, while his office offered multiple excuses for not taking action to protect LGBT people – including the Zika outbreak.

“We were given every indication by the Governor’s Office that they would get this done,” Guillermo-Smith told WFTV. “After weeks and months and months of delays, we realized this had now become a broken promise.”

“The excuses that were given were all over the map,” the Democratic lawmaker says. “From Zika to the hurricane from last October.”

The Tampa Bay Times adds that “Smith said that assurances were made in private conversations with Scott’s then-Chief of Staff Kim McDougall and legislative affairs director Kevin Reilly. Smith provided emails to the Times/Herald that reference those meetings and a series of follow-up conversations that lasted for months.”

After a gunman opened fire in the nightclub and killed 49 people — most of them LGBTQ and Latino — Equality Florida ratcheted up calls for the governor to sign an order. They even provided draft language modeled after a similar rule in effect in Jacksonville, Smith said.

The Times adds the governor’s office “did not dispute the account that a promise had been made to LGBTQ rights activists. A spokeswoman, Lauren Schenone, said the state ‘doesn’t tolerate discrimination in any form.'”

But that’s just lip service. Without an executive order, no lawsuit or formal complaint can be filed, Guillermo-Smith says.

“The governor at this point has failed to lead and doesn’t have the courage to actually take action on behalf of the 49 people who were murdered in this state,” Guillermo-Smith charges. “The governor is the governor. It’s on his shoulders.”

The Florida legislature has largely ignored the LGBT community. A nondiscrimination ordinance has had just one hearing in more than ten years, the Times reports.

Equality Florida has been pushing for broader protections for the LGBTQ community in Florida, including a law that would outlaw discrimination in housing, hiring and public accommodations. Right now in Florida, it is legal to fire, refuse to rent to or decline to serve people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“With the simple stroke of a pen, the Governor could demonstrate his commitment to combatting discrimination of any kind and ensuring that Florida is a place that welcomes and respects everybody, including members of the LGBTQ community,” Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said in a statement. 

Governor Scott was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He cannot run in 2018 but after not serving for one term could run again.

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Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

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The co-author of the likely unconstitutional Louisiana bill mandating the Ten Commandments be posted in every public classroom from kindergarten through college “can’t fathom” why Americans across the country are so upset.

Republican Governor Jeff Landry signed the bill into law Thursday, after bragging he welcomed civil rights groups that threatened to sue, a promise fulfilled on Thursday by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

“The first amendment promises that we all get to decide for ourselves what religious beliefs, if any, to hold and practice, without pressure from the government. Politicians have no business imposing their preferred religious doctrine on students and families in public schools,” the group of civil rights organizations said in a statement, The Guardian reported.

Louisiana Republican state Rep. Lauren Ventrella, an attorney who co-authored the bill, told CNN Thursday afternoon she couldn’t even “fathom” why anyone would be upset over the government mandating a religious text be posted on the walls of every classroom.

RELATED: ‘Smug’: Governor Scorched for Signing Ten Commandments Bill as Child Faints

“Look, this nation has gotten out of hand,” Rep. Ventrella said, “with crime, with the bad negative things that are going on.”

Nationwide, crime has plummeted under President Joe Biden, but for decades Louisiana has had the highest murder rate per capita in the country – three times the national average – according to FBI statistics. For overall crime, Louisiana ranks second worst in the country.

“Why is it so preposterous that we would want our students to have the option to have some good principles instilled in them if they don’t hear it at home, let them read it in the classroom,” Ventrella told CNN’s Boris Sanchez. “It’s no different than the Mayflower Compact which is mentioned in the document as well. I don’t understand why this is so preposterous in that litigation is being is being threatened. It doesn’t scare us in the state of Louisiana, we say bring it on.”

Sanchez explained, “if someone has a home in which they choose to believe something different, which is welcome in this country – it’s literally why people fled to come here to found this country to begin with – then they should be allowed to, and it’s not really an option if you’re requiring it to be put up in the wall of the classroom. What do you say to the parents of students or even teachers who don’t share your religious views?”

“Don’t look at it,” Ventrella angrily replied.

“What would you say if your child had to go to a classroom in which the Five Pillars of Islam were required to be on the wall? How would you feel?” Sanchez replied.

“Again, this is not about the Five Pillars of Islam. This bill specifically states, the Ten Commandments, it is a historical document,” she claimed.

READ MORE: How SCOTUS ‘Let Trump Off the Hook’ and ‘Interfered in the 2024 Elections’: Expert

Adding he was trying to help the Louisiana GOP lawmaker “put yourself in the shows of someone you may not understand and their point of view,” Sanchez asked, “How would you feel if you were at the classroom and something you didn’t believe in was required to be on the wall? You can answer that question.”

“I cannot sit here and gather and fathom what – you could give me 1000 hypotheticals, but again, this specific bill applies to this specific text, the Qur’an or Islam that is a very broad statement. We’re specifically talking about a limited text on mind you a piece of paper that’s not much bigger than a legal sheet of paper. Some kids might even need a magnifying glass to read all of this. This is not so preposterous that we’re we’re somehow sanctioning and forcing religion down people’s throat. I’ve heard the comments and it’s just ridiculous.”

Critics are furious.

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh replied, “Yes, what Louisiana just signed into law is unconstitutional & will be struck down by the courts. But this is just the latest evidence that my former political party would abandon the Constitution to make America a Christian theocracy.”

“Interesting State Rep. Ventrella says if students aren’t hearing about the Ten Commandments in the home they should hear it in school — which contradicts numerous bills they passed against schools teaching things parents don’t want taught,” observed Nexstar’s capitol bureau chief Shannon Heckt remarked.

Democratic National Committee chairman Jaime Harrison issued a statement in response.

“Watch this… folks this has very little to do with actual religion (because I guarantee you the majority of the MAGA Republicans who voted for this in the legislature don’t live up to these commandments),” he began. “As a Christian, I don’t feel compelled to force my religion and beliefs on others. I believe my path to salvation is paved by my actions and not impacted by the actions & beliefs of others.”

“My friends.. this is about control… these right-wing MAGA extremists want to control every aspect of our lives: control our bodies; who we love; who we pray to; how we express ourselves; what we read; who we vote for; and so much more,” he continued. “They are extreme, dangerous and unhinged. This is no time… this is no election to FAFO, because our freedoms and all we hold dear are on the ballot this November. Don’t be silent… let your voice be heard!”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

 

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‘Smug’: Governor Scorched for Signing Ten Commandments Bill as Child Faints

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Louisiana Republican Governor Jeff Landry signed into law on Thursday legislation mandating a version of the Bible’s Ten Commandments must be posted in every public school classroom, after bragging he looked forward to civil rights groups suing him. Gov. Landry, the former state attorney general, has been criticized nationally for what experts say is a violation of the First Amendment, but that criticism widened Thursday as a little girl standing behind the governor appeared to faint as the governor continued his remarks (video below), apparently without noticing.

After the governor described the bill to tremendous applause from guests, the child fell to the floor. Governor Landry, seemingly unaware, continued, declaring, “if you want to protect the rule of law you got to start from the original law giver.”

Highlighting what some experts see as the First Amendment violation in the law he was about to sign, Landry continued, claiming Moses was the original lawgiver.

READ MORE: ‘Morally Bankrupt Loser’: Top Trump VP Contender Wants to Deport 20 Million People

Historians and religious experts might disagree with the governor. In some cultures, for example, Hammurabi, King of Babylon, is credited as the original lawgiver. In Ancient Greece, Athenian statesman Solon is considered to have that role. And in ancient India, that role belonged to Manu.

Responding to Landry’s “original lawgiver” remark, researcher Eric Kleefeld commented, “If that’s your rationale, then you ought to be posting the Code of Ur-Nammu, the oldest known set of written laws that archaeologists have ever found, from ancient Sumeria.”

Critics blasted Landry, both for not realizing the child directly behind him had fallen ill, and for the alleged First Amendment violation.

“Gov. Landry with a self-satisfied smug look while a young child passes out behind him,” remarked MSNBC legal correspondent Katie Phang.

“Christian Nationalism is front and center in the South. Scared of Project 2025? It’s happening in our states,” commented U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL).

READ MORE: How SCOTUS ‘Let Trump Off the Hook’ and ‘Interfered in the 2024 Elections’: Expert

“Remember everyone…this is about the kids. Not the one me whom literally passed out behind him. But, definitely kids,” commented former Lincoln Project executive director Fred Wellman.

Louisiana ranks near the bottom in education, at number 47 according to U.S. News and World Report.

Watch the video below or at this link.

RELATED: ‘I Can’t Wait to Be Sued’ Gov. Brags Over Ten Commandments Bill – Rights Groups Vow To Oblige

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Pence’s $10 Million Spending Spree Will Help Trump Campaign on Tax Cuts for the Rich

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is not endorsing Donald Trump, is spending $10 million in an effort to preserve the Trump tax cuts that largely benefitted ultra-wealthy millionaires and billionaires, which will help his ex-boss’s re-election efforts.

Advancing American Freedom, Pence’s political advocacy group, “is launching a $10 million campaign to push for an extension of the Trump-era tax cuts, which are set to expire next year and will likely play a key role in the 2024 election,” according to The Hill.

President Joe Biden has said he wants to eliminate Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for those making over $400,000, NBC News reports The tax cuts have added $1 to $2 trillion dollars to the national debt.

“A CBO report in May estimated that extending the provisions of Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would increase deficits by nearly $5 trillion into 2034,” the Associated Press reports, adding that Pence’s group is “press[ing] conservatives not to stray from the fight before the November election.”

READ MORE: How SCOTUS ‘Let Trump Off the Hook’ and ‘Interfered in the 2024 Elections’: Expert

Pence’s group also “released a 13-page blueprint Thursday with arguments being made to Capitol Hill and to voters in swing states, particularly in those that could decide control of the Senate.”

“As of May 2020, the Tax Policy Center estimated the tax cuts would add between $1 and $2 trillion to the federal debt by 2025. The Center for American Progress estimated the bill will have cost roughly $1.7 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2023 on June 30,” according to a 2023 USA Today fact check on the Trump tax cuts.

“The benefits of the 2017 tax changes were overwhelmingly skewed toward the wealthy,” the Center for American Progress reported in April. It provided “the largest tax cuts to the very wealthy,” which “failed to trickle down to ordinary workers.”

“The most significant piece of legislation former President Donald Trump signed during his first term had a dramatic cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent as its centerpiece,” Center for American Progress Action reported last week in “Trump’s $50 Billion Tax Giveaway to the 100 Largest Corporations.”

“That corporate tax cut did not trickle down to ordinary workers but cost $1.3 trillion and helped fuel a record $1 trillion in stock buybacks the year after it passed.”

READ MORE: ‘I Can’t Wait to Be Sued’ Gov. Brags Over Ten Commandments Bill – Rights Groups Vow To Oblige
 

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