By Robert A. Vella
With the U.S. judicial system largely recognizing the civil rights of LGBT persons in recent years, social conservatives of the religious right have been pushing so-called “religious freedom” bills in mostly Republican-controlled states. These bills have little to do with religion, and nothing at all to do with freedom. They are quintessentially licenses to discriminate, laws that allow bigots to treat non-heterosexuals as lesser human beings having inferior rights of citizenship.
From ThinkProgress – 8 Entities Protesting Indiana’s New LGBT Discrimination Law:
In the wake of Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) signing a law that essentially allows discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the state, companies are starting to consider pulling their business from the state.
Though Pence has tried to insist that the law is about “religious liberty” and not discrimination against LGBT discrimination in the state, that doesn’t seem to wash with many in the state — including the Chamber of Commerce, which has said the law will bring unwanted attention to the state. Many high-profile companies and entities that host major events in the state are starting to reconsider their business.
From ThinkProgress – How To Kill A Discriminatory ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill: Call The Bluff:
Georgia lawmakers have been quickly advancing their own version of a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), a bill similar to the pro-discrimination legislation that just became law in Indiana. SB 129 has already passed the Georgia Senate — having advanced through votes while Democrats were in the bathroom — but it came to a screeching halt in a House committee on Thursday.
As in Indiana, proponents of Georgia’s bill have tried to argue that it has nothing to do with discrimination. Rep. Mike Jacobs, an LGBT-friendly Republican, decided to test this theory by introducing an amendment that would not allow claims of religious liberty to be used to circumvent state and local nondiscrimination protections. Supporters of the bill, like Rep. Barry Fleming (R), countered that the amendment “will gut the bill.” Nevertheless, the House Judiciary Committee approved the amendment with a 9-8 vote, three Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.
Fleming moved to table the amended bill, a motion that passed with 16 votes, making it doubtful the bill will proceed before the legislative session ends. With an exception for nondiscrimination protections, the “religious liberty” bill is likely dead.
Last week, the Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC(USA), officially voted to fully embrace marriage equality as a denomination, a historic move celebrated by LGBT advocates and lay Presbyterians alike. But just a few days after the pivotal vote, four different Presbyterian churches in southeast Missouri received an unsigned letter condemning homosexuality and threatening to attack congregations that embrace same-sex marriage.
The letter, written in all capital letters and riddled with typos, opened by citing a passage from the biblical book Leviticus condemning same-gender sex. The author then issued a chilling warning to area churches who host same-sex weddings.
“People U (sic) had better turn around or your soles (sic) are going down…” the letter read, which was photographed by local news affiliate 12 KFVS. “Any church that accepts this [same-sex marriage], should be burned to the ground, any pastor who performs such marriage (sic) should be kicked out of the church forever. The above statement could happen to any church that performs this action … You have been warned churches.”
Rev. Kim Nelson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Cape Girardeau, which received one of the letters, told ThinkProgress that local police and the FBI are investigating the incident to determine whether the letter constitutes a hate crime.