Quantcast
Connect with us

‘Religious freedom’ bills stall in Georgia and North Carolina — but advance in Arkansas

Published

on

Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill recently signed by Governor Mike Pence during a rally in Indianapolis March 28, 2015. REUTERS/Nate Chute

Indiana Republicans pledged on Monday to clarify a new “religious freedom” law, while similar proposals stalled in Georgia and North Carolina after businesses and activists said such measures could be used to discriminate against gays.

Arkansas lawmakers, however, signaled they would move forward with their own bill, even after Indiana was rebuked by companies and executives including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook, and Eli Lilly and Co.

ADVERTISEMENT

Indiana’s law, signed by Governor Mike Pence last week, was perceived as going further than those passed in 19 other states, giving businesses a right to refuse services on religious grounds.

Gay marriage became legal in Indiana last year following an appeals court ruling, and gay rights activists say Republicans pushed through the act in response. It was enacted months before an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling over state bans on same-sex marriage.

The law has drawn intense criticism, including concerns from the president of the Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is holding its men’s basketball championship Final Four in the city beginning this weekend.

On Monday, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and state Senate President Pro Tem David Long, both Republicans, told reporters the law was not intended to discriminate, and that it sets a legal standard allowing people of all faiths to bring religious freedom claims.

“To the extent that we need to clarify that, by adding something to the law to make that clear that’s not the intent, we are more than willing to do it,” Long said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nine chief executive officers, including the heads of Angie’s List and Eli Lilly, wrote letters to Pence, Bosma and Long on Monday asking them to “take immediate action” to ensure the act will not sanction or encourage discrimination.

Thousands rallied against the law in Indianapolis last weekend and Washington state’s governor on Monday said the state would join Connecticut, San Francisco and Seattle in banning official travel to Indiana.

The rock band Wilco announced on Twitter on Monday it was canceling its May 7 Indianapolis show because of this “odious measure.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’ve been embarrassed before the nation,” Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, a Democrat, told reporters, calling for the law’s repeal.

PENCE DEFENDS LAW

Bosma said lawmakers were looking at different options for clarifying the law.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pence on Monday defended it in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, saying it “has been grossly misconstrued.”

“I want to make clear to (Indiana residents) and every American that despite what critics and many in the national media have asserted, the law is not a ‘license to discriminate,’ either in Indiana or elsewhere,” he said.

On Sunday, Pence said he would not push for a nondiscrimination bill to counteract its possible impact, but said he was open to the General Assembly adding a section that clarifies the law.

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier in March, a Senate-approved bill in Georgia was put on hold after a House member added anti-discrimination language.

On Monday, North Carolina’s governor said he would not sign a religious freedom bill because it would allow government officials to refuse to perform marriages on religious grounds.

In Arkansas, the Republican-controlled House is expected to approve a bill advanced by state senators, and Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has said he would sign it.

Arkansas-based retail giant Wal-Mart Stores said the bill sends the “wrong message” about the state.

ADVERTISEMENT

(Reporting and writing by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago, David Beasley in Atlanta, Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Colleen Jenkins in Winston-; Salem, North Carolina; Editing by Susan Heavey, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Chuck Todd shreds GOP senator for making rules ‘out of thin air’: ‘The party looks like a bunch of hypocrites’

Published

on

Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press, on Sunday told Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) that his party "looks like a bunch of hypocrites" because they are set to nominate President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick in an election year.

Following Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, Todd reminded Blunt that Republicans had blocked former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination because it was an election year.

"You have no qualms about doing this before the election?" Todd asked. "You've seen, polling is pretty overwhelming on this issue. A large majority of the American public do not believe this president before the election should make this pick and it should be whoever wins the election."

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Tom Cotton cornered by CNN’s Tapper over Trump’s threat to not hand over power if he loses in November

Published

on

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was put on the spot on Sunday morning during his appearance on CNN when "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper pressed him over Donald Trump's suggestion he won't peacefully step down if he loses the election.

With Cotton glibly commenting he expected a peaceful transfer of power “in January 2025, after President Trump finishes his second term,” Tapper pressed him about the president's comments.

“You’re not at all disturbed by what he’s saying about if the ballots aren’t counted? " the CNN host asked. "It is really quite alarming to a lot of Republicans his refusal to say, 'of course, if I lose, I will abide by a peaceful transfer of power.'”

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Trump brags Amy Coney Barrett will kill abortion rights: ‘I guess she maybe would’

Published

on

President Donald Trump told Fox News that he expects Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to strike down Roe v. Wade and the right to have an abortion.

Trump made the remarks in an interview that aired Sunday on Fox & Friends after host Pete Hegseth noted that the president had previously said that his Supreme Court picks would "automatically" overturn Roe v. Wade.

"I didn't think it was for me to discuss that with her," Trump explained. "Because it's something that she's going to be ruling on. And this is what I was told -- although, I would have had the right to do that."

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE