The business case against Indiana’s religious act

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law on Thursday morning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a political move business leaders within the state had voiced fierce opposition to in the days surrounding the Indiana legislature’s passage of the bill on Monday and it being sent to the governor for his signature.

The new law allows businesses to use an owner’s faith as a reason to refuse service to customers, including same-sex married couples. The risks from the act range from potential workplace lawsuits on religious grounds to a broader and deeper business chill in the Hoosier State, with money-making conferences and major corporations threatening to pull out, difficulty attracting key job creators like tech sector companies and a wide-ranging ripple effect on small-business owners.

The governor’s move comes during a sensitive period of time for Indiana’s economy—it has shown signs of a small-business boom in recent years, and has fared relatively well in job creation and new-company formation, but is also seeking to break out from the sluggish growth that has typified the post-crisis economic recovery

via The business case against Indiana’s religious act.

Fox News: You can oppose non-discrimination law because being LGBT is just a ‘belief’ | The Raw Story

Fox News anchor Bret Baier suggested to his viewers on Wednesday that a good reason to oppose a law to prevent discrimination against LGBT people was that “beliefs” like sexual orientation could “conflict with a company’s goals.”

During a segment on Fox News’ Special Report, Baier noted that Democrats were pushing to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and that meant “religious freedom” would “take a backseat to another kind of freedom.”

Reporter Shannon Bream pointed out that many religious institutions opposed the bill because they could be forced to “hire a transgender teacher.”

via Fox News: You can oppose non-discrimination law because being LGBT is just a ‘belief’ | The Raw Story.

Barilla Earns Gay Boycott, Learns Taking Sides Is Bad For Business – Forbes

Barilla Pasta  stepped  on a landmine this week telling Italian media the company would never feature or market directly to gay couples. If they had a problem with that, said its chairman, they could eat another brand of pasta.

I pity the fool who messes with the purchasing power of the LGBT community.

The remarks as widely reported, were made by Guido Barilla on La Zanzara, an Italian radio program.

I would never make a spot with a homosexualfamily. Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.

He went even further saying, “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand,” according to a Reuters translation.

Competitor Bertolli Germany lost little time presenting itself as that very option, as told  by AdWeek. Posting a photo and caption that translates to “pasta and love for all” on its Facebook page and resurrecting a commercialfrom 2011 featuring gay couples.

via Barilla Earns Gay Boycott, Learns Taking Sides Is Bad For Business – Forbes.

Support for marriage equality lowest among blacks, Republicans in Texas | Dallas Voice

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found that 63 percent of Texas voters believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry or form civil unions in the Lone Star State.

The poll found that 34 percent support marriage equality, which is lower than a recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Support is still lagging among black and Republican voters, according to the PPP poll.

Among those who identified as very liberal, 74 percent support marriage equality and 18 percent are in favor of civil unions. As for very conservative voters, 4 percent support same-sex marriage and 45 favor civil unions. Eighteen percent of very liberal voters opposed any form of relationship recognition, compared to 48 percent of very conservative voters.

African-American Texans have the strongest opposition to same-sex relationship recognition, with 44 percent opposing any recognition, compared to 31 percent of white voters and 21 percent of Hispanic voters. Twenty-one percent of African-Americans support civil unions with 18 percent supporting same-sex marriage. White voters supported marriage by 33 percent and 31 percent favoring civil unions. Hispanics favored civil unions by 44 percent with 29 percent supporting marriage.

The poll also found that 75 percent of those surveyed believe employers shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation and 54 percent support the Voting Rights Act.

The poll surveyed 500 registered voters between June 28 and July 1. The margin of error was plus/minus 4.4 percentvia Support for marriage equality lowest among blacks, Republicans in Texas | Dallas Voice.

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WE DO Campaign: Local couples push for marriage equality | Hattiesburg American | hattiesburgamerican.com

In the hearts and minds of Petal residents Sara and Lynn Bell, May 11 will forever be their wedding anniversary.

Recognized in Connecticut as a legally married couple, Sara Bell, 31, and Lynn Bell, 43, say they are “legal strangers” in their home state of Mississippi.

For that reason, the two women found themselves standing in line Friday morning at the Forrest County Courthouse with five other same-sex couples and their friends and families. Each couple filed into the office to be denied a marriage license.

Supporters of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s WE DO Campaign, the Bells are working with equal rights activists across the South to tell their story and take steps toward marriage equality.

The WE DO Campaign brings together same-sex couples and their supporters to call for equal rights under federal law for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The campaign’s mission is to draw attention to “the harms created by states’ laws across the South that prohibit same-sex marriage.”

“We want couples to be able to tell their stories of why they are in loving and committed relationships,” said Aaron Sarber, Campaign for Southern Equality’scommunications director. “You have situations where parents are raising kids, and they don’t have legal rights to those kids.

“We recognize that there are folks across the South, including Mississippi, who don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and that’s fine. We want to remove this from being such a controversial political issue and talk about the couples and the realities of these families raising children.”

via WE DO Campaign: Local couples push for marriage equality | Hattiesburg American | hattiesburgamerican.com.

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Putin Introduces Fines for Gay ‘Propaganda’ Aimed at Children – Businessweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law fining people who “propagate” homosexuality to children, a day after dozens of people were detained following a gay-pride parade in St. Petersburg.

The law introduces fines of 4,000 rubles ($122) to 5,000 rubles for individuals and 10 times those figures for public officials found guilty, according to a copy of the legislation posted to a government website yesterday. Fines for individuals who use mass media or the Internet to propagate homosexuality to minors rise to as much as 100,000 rubles.

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term as president last year, said in April that same-sex marriages don’t produce children and that Russia and Europe face demographic challenges from lower birth rates, though it’s his duty to protect the rights of people with “non-traditional” sexual orientations. The decision comes days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that denied benefits to same-sex couples and removed obstacles for gay weddings to resume in California.

Putin violated Russia’s international obligations by signing the law, which will be challenged at Russia’s Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights, Nikolai Alexeyev, a Russian gay-rights activist, wrote in a statement on GayRussia.eu.

‘Under-educated Electorate’

“By signing the law banning gay propaganda, President Putin may have won a local battle for the votes of his under-educated electorate,” Alexeyev wrote. “He lost the historical battle. History will prove that he committed a mistake that future generations won’t likely forgive.”

Opinion polls have shown limited tolerance among Russians for homosexuality. Last year, Moscow City Court upheld the city’s decision to ban gay-pride parades for the next 100 years.

The federal bill follows a similar ban on “propaganda” instituted last year in St. Petersburg, which was used two days ago in Russia’s second-largest city. The 58 people detained in St. Petersburg included eight who were opponents of same-sex marriages, the local Fontanka.ru news portal reported, citing city police. A leader of the event, Yury Gavrikov, was held overnight and will face administrative charges on July 4, the news service said.

The St. Petersburg law drew international outrage. American singer Madonna faced a 333 million-ruble fine earlier this year, later thrown out by a city court, after saying at a concert last year that gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and tolerance.

Defended Record

Putin has defended Russia’s record on gay rights amid criticism from European countries. The bill Putin signed yesterday stigmatizes homosexuals and breaches the spirit of Russia’s commitments, including to the European Convention on Human Rights, Steffen Seibert, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, told reporters in Berlin last month.

“I want everyone to understand that in Russia there are no infringements on sexual minorities’ rights,” Putin said in Amsterdam in April. “They’re people, just like everyone else, and they enjoy full rights and freedoms.”

The federal amendments expanded on a law that protects children from pornography and other “harmful information.” The bill prohibits the distribution of information intended to promote or spread “non-traditional sexual orientations’” among minors, or a “distorted conception of the equivalence between traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships.”

The bill also prohibits the “obtrusive spreading of information about non-traditional sexual relationships that may arouse interest in such relationships.”

Russian ‘Mood’

Foreign citizens charged under the law face administrative arrests for as long as 15 days and deportation from Russia.

The federal government wasn’t behind regional initiatives to ban material promoting homosexuality, Putin said in April. They “reflect the mood of Russian society,” he said.

Some 48 percent of Russians believe the government should “definitely” prevent public displays or justifications of homosexuality, the independent Levada Center said May 17, citing a poll of 1,601 people conducted in April. The Moscow-based polling firm found 25 percent said the state should “probably” do so.

The same survey found 13 percent of people think homosexuals should face prosecution, while 38 percent said they should be “treated” for their homosexuality. Some 31 percent said gays and lesbians should be left alone.

via Putin Introduces Fines for Gay ‘Propaganda’ Aimed at Children – Businessweek.

As marriage equality sweeps the Midwest, Republican domination holds back Wisconsin | Wisconsin Gaze | Wisconsin Gazette – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) News

Wisconsin’s neighbor Minnesota became the 12th state in the country to legalize same-sex unions, and Illinois is inching closer. In Iowa, marriage equality has been law since 2009.

But although Gov. Scott Walker has had out gay associates, including two who’ve been convicted of crimes committed while serving as part of his Milwaukee County Executive staff, he strongly opposes marriage equality. As a result, marriage equality is not on the legislative agenda in Wisconsin, and that situation is not expected to change in the near future.

“I just don’t think it’s very likely in this state anytime soon,” said Joe Heim, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist, told Post-Crescent Media. “It’s pretty clear that public opinion in the United States is leaning toward gay marriage (but) I just don’t see Wisconsin joining that (group) anytime soon.”

Wisconsin’s constitution, unlike Minnesota’s, bans same-sex marriage.

In November 2006, nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters supported an amendment banning marriage equality. The effort to pass the amendment was spearheaded by Julaine Appling, director of the right-wing group Wisconsin Family Action.

via As marriage equality sweeps the Midwest, Republican domination holds back Wisconsin | Wisconsin Gaze | Wisconsin Gazette – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) News.

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Rep. Louie Gohmert links gay marriage to bestiality | Texas on the Potomac | a Chron.com blog

There he goes again.

Rep. Louie Gohmert is back in the news after a liberal watchdog group dug up a conference call in which the Tyler Republican connected gay marriage to bestiality. Somehow, Gohmert managed to do that while talking about guns.

Right Wing Watch, a self-proclaimed watchdog on the “right-wing agenda,” reported today on comments the congressman made in early February during a conference call for the organization Tea Party Unity.

The discussion turned to gun violence and the threat of gun control, when Gohmert recalled negotiations with Democrats and their attempt to reason that limiting the number of rounds in a magazine is a small aspect that both parties could reach an agreement on.

Gohmert continued:

“Well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not, somebody has a love for an animal?

There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal.”

This isn’t the first time Gohmert drew this conclusion on LGBT issues. Gohmert previously disapproved of theMatthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Bill, saying it would legalize bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia. He made the comments during a debate on repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also has linked gay marriage to bestiality, although he later deniedmaking those comments

via Rep. Louie Gohmert links gay marriage to bestiality | Texas on the Potomac | a Chron.com blog.

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Bucking the trend: The House Democrats who oppose gay marriage – The Hill

Eleven House Democrats are on record as opposing gay marriage, even as support within their party for the issue builds.

Another nine haven’t taken definitive positions in support of or against gay marriage.

President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a number of Democratic senators have flipped on the issue, and a majority of voters support gay marriage according to polls.

But the issue remains politically thorny, and even in the relatively liberal House Democratic conference there are pockets of opposition to same-sex marriage.

Nine Democrats who voted in 2011 to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to gay couples haven’t publicly changed their positions: Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gene Green (Texas), Dan Lipinski (Ill.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).

Another two freshmen Democrats voiced opposition to same-sex marriage during their 2012 campaigns: Reps. Bill Enyart (Ill.) and Pete Gallego (Texas).

The nine Democrats who haven’t taken a definitive position on gay marriage are Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.), Ron Kind (Wis.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), David Scott (Ga.), Terry Sewell (Ala.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Pete Visclosky (Ind.) and freshman Filemon Vela (Texas).

Five of these Democrats hail from districts that voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, and they are perennial GOP targets: Barrow, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson and Rahall. Obama narrowly carried Enyart’s district.

Many other members represent minority-majority districts. Both African-American and Hispanic-American constituencies have historically been more opposed to gay marriage. Yet other members who represent districts with such populations do support gay marriage.

via Bucking the trend: The House Democrats who oppose gay marriage – The Hill.

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Lake County School Board May Slash All Student Clubs To Blockade Gay-Straight Alliance UPDATE

A central Florida school district may ban extracurricular student clubs in an attempt to prevent the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at a local middle school.

The Lake County School District discussed amending the rules regarding student clubs in order to blockade a Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg, according to the Miami Herald. A group of students attempted to form the Gay-Straight Alliance during the 2011-2012 school year, but were turned down. One eighth-grade student, Bayli Silberstein, persisted and reapplied for permission in November.

Silberstein’s push for a GSA is in response to anti-gay bullying at the school, according to WFTV. She claims she and her friends were tormented by others for their sexual orientation. “It hurt, and that is something that I did not want to see continuing,” she told central Florida’s ABC local affiliate WFTV.

After Silberstein’s application was previously denied, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, according to WFTV. The ACLU sent a letter to the school district saying that if school officials continued to obstruct the formation of the group, taxpayers may have to foot the bill for a very expensive lawsuit.

The Florida School district is legally obligated to permit a Gay-Straight Alliance, per the federal Equal Access Act. The legislation states that it is unlawful for a school receiving federal funding “to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting… on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech.”

So now, Lake County may sacrifice all to thwart one.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, school board members mulled over the issue on Monday. Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer reasoned that the school is not responsible for “social engineering.” Board member Tod Howard expressed worry over losing the more valuable clubs, remarking during the meeting, “I am very concerned that one club would push out the remainder of the clubs that are doing good things.”

via Lake County School Board May Slash All Student Clubs To Blockade Gay-Straight Alliance UPDATE.