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‘Religious freedom’ — the new name for the war on LGBT rights

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Yesterday, the Georgia Senate approved a “religious freedom” bill which, if signed into law, would prohibit the state from infringing on personal religious beliefs — effectively legalizing discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. The bill, however, is but one of many “religious freedom” bills being introduced by Republican lawmakers across the country in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling that would legalize same-sex marriages.

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“Freedom of religion is a fundamental American value that we cherish, and work hard to defend. However, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people gain greater equality under the law, we are seeing a troubling push to allow anyone (including businesses) to use their religious beliefs to discriminate,” the American Civil Liberties Union explained in a fact sheet published last year.

The majority of these bills are expanded version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which the Supreme Court ruled last year exempted Hobby Lobby from providing conception coverage for its employees on religious grounds.

Nineteen states currently have RFRA legislation on the books, but even in some of those states, Republican legislators are attempting to broaden legal protection for discrimination. In Arizona last year, the legislature passed a revised version of its extant RFRA law, only to have Republican Governor Jan Brewer veto it, saying it was too “broadly worded and can result in unintended and negative consequences.”

In Florida, Satanists have already exploited such “unintended consequences,” using the Hobby Lobby decision as a means of exempting members of the Satanic Temple from the state’s mandatory informed consent laws dealing with abortion.

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But increasingly, Republican lawmakers see these laws a way to protect state officials from having to perform ceremonies — such as same-sex weddings — that they find objectionable on religious grounds. Last year, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Maine introduced new or expanded RFRA legislation.

Which is not to say that some states have not tried to make concessions, even if they did contain a poison pill. In Michigan, for example, Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger agreed to support House Bill 5959, which would have prohibited sexual discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — but only if it was yoked to House Bill 5958, which would have allowed for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation if there were religious objections.

Despite being early in 2015 state legislative sessions — and in addition to the Georgia bill — RFRA bills have already been introduced in Indiana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Arkansas.

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New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion

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New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.

Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.

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Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."

Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.

Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.

Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.

Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!

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‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener

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Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."

"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.

"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.

She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."

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