Friday, January 15, 2016

The hits (63 of them) just keep on coming

I was going to discuss the movie about Frank Schaefer (preview mentioned here), but this evening's showing at a downtown church was canceled. I didn't find out about that until I got down there.

So, let's see if there are any brief items hiding in my browser tabs I can mention.

Protect Thy Neighbor is an organization that tracks "bills across the country that would allow individuals, businesses, and government employees to harm others in the name of religion." Most of these allow discrimination against LGBT people, many deny access to reproductive health care. Their tally of bills in progress at the start of the 2016 legislative session:

There are 18 bills to expand Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which are now frequently used to allow religion to discriminate. Three of these bills are in Georgia, four in Kentucky, and four in Oklahoma. There is one pending in Michigan (though the Senate committee got it a year ago).

There are 11 bills to allow gov't employees to withhold marriage licenses. Four of these bills are in Kentucky.

There are 3 bills for First Amendment Defense Acts. These are similar to RFRAs but without the religious overtones. Some go beyond same-sex couples into unmarried couples, remarried couples, single mothers, etc.

There are 8 bills that allow private businesses to refuse to provide wedding services.

There are 4 bills that penalize (including termination) gov't officials who recognize same-sex marriages. Three of these are in Oklahoma.

There are 13 bills for Pastor Protection Acts, to prohibit the state from requiring clergy to perform weddings that conflict with their beliefs (unnecessary because of the First Amendment). There are two each in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina.

Two bills, in South Carolina and Tennessee, would defy the Supremes and declare marriage to only be one man and one woman.

Four bills would eliminate or reduce a state's role in licensing marriages. Two of them are in Michigan.

That's 63 active bills.

Also in Michigan there is a proposal to put a ban on discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity into the state constitution. That proposal has cleared the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which approved the language that will appear on petitions. Now the Fair Michigan organization can begin collecting signatures. They need 315,000 by July 11.

Unless I see something change between now and whenever a petition is put in front of me, I won't sign. Some election advisors don't think it will pass and we won't have enough time or money to assure passage. However, if it does get on the ballot I'm pretty sure I'll be doing my part for a win.

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