Top firms decry religious exemption bills proposed in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) | Some of the world’s biggest companies are back to oppose a range of new Texas legislation they say is discriminatory, two years after Apple, Facebook and other Fortune 500 companies banded together with gay rights activists in defeating the state’s “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people.

The corporate giants, which also include Google, Amazon, and IBM, joined Texas businesses and more than a dozen local chambers of commerce in a letter to lawmakers March 27 urging the Republican-controlled Legislature to focus on other legislation.

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Kentucky Democrat files transgender “bathroom bill”

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A Democratic lawmaker in Kentucky has filed a bill to ban transgender bathroom use in public buildings.

The bill filed by state Rep. Rick Nelson would require bathrooms in public buildings “only be used by persons based on their biological sex.” He also filed a bill aimed at protecting “a person’s right of conscience.”

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North Carolina governor allows disaster relief money to be used defending anti-LGBT law

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Pat McCrory decided against signing one bill sent by the legislature because money appropriated to defend House Bill 2 originated from a disaster relief fund.

The bill became law without McCrory’s signature as a deadline passed July 31. It contained many tweaks to a larger budget measure, including $500,000 for the governor’s office for legal costs of defending House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination rules for LGBTQ people.

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LGBT rights proposals: state by state round-up

By : Wire Report
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Legislation has been proposed in states across the country addressing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including some proposals that critics say would legalize discrimination. Many of the proposals would protect clergy, businesses and those who decline to employ or serve people based on religious beliefs. Eleven states – Oklahoma, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia and Texas – announced a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Here’s a look at legislation around the country:

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Trump opposes “bathroom bills” on basis of economics

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Jersey City, N.J. (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that transgender people should be able to use whichever bathroom they choose, wading into one of the most contentious issues in politics and opposing many in his party.

Speaking at a town hall event on NBC’s “Today,” Trump was asked about North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom law,” which, among other things, requires transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in state government buildings as well as public schools and universities.

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Anti-gay bills give big business an opportunity to take a stand

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Atlanta (AP) – Major corporations invested in Southern states have become some of the staunchest opponents of bills they consider discriminatory, facing off against Republican lawmakers eager to portray their states as the best home for global brands.

The NFL, Apple and other behemoths have cajoled Republicans into rejecting or softening bills in recent years that supporters say protect people who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds. Companies are speaking up loudly again this year in states where such bills have been proposed as part of a backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage.

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Pennsylvania Governor takes anti-discrimination matters into his own hands

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Harrisburg, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf says he’ll sign an executive order to prohibit discrimination by state contractors against people who are lesbian, gay or transgender.

Wolf told WESA-FM in Pittsburgh that he had hoped the Legislature would pass legislation designed to outlaw discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Tennessee House approves bill requiring students to use bathroom of sex at birth

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Nashville, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee House panel has revived a bill seeking to require public school students to use restrooms that match their sex at birth.

The House Education Administration and Planning Committee voted 8-4 to reverse an earlier decision to study the bill after the Legislature adjourns for the rest of the year. The bill was then approved by the same vote.

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Battle between religious and gay rights splits GOP states

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Republican lawmakers upset about the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage have advanced measures in about a dozen states this year that could strengthen protections for those who refuse on religious grounds to provide services to same-sex couples.

The bills could benefit court clerks, photographers, florists, bakers, wedding-hall operators and others who say gay matrimony goes against their beliefs.

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Denouncing North Carolina: a round-up

By : Watermark Staff
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From travel bans to cancelled deals, cities, states and corporations are rallying to distance themselves from North Carolina after the governor signed a bill that prohibits municipalities from protecting their LGBT citizens.

Here is a by-no-means comprehensive round-up of those who have taken action so far – the hits keep coming, daily and fast. (Know of one we missed? Let us know in the comments! The list is growing daily.)

Additionally, we already reported on Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph halting business to North Carolina over HB2, but Watermark editor Billy Manes spoke to Randolph about that decision. Find that expanded article below the list. 

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Mississippi moves anti-gay religious objections bill forward

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Jackson (AP) – Mississippi government employees or private business people could cite their own religious objections to same-sex marriage to deny services to gay or lesbian couples under a bill that advanced in the state Senate late March 31.

Because the Senate made a change to House Bill 1523, the measure returns to the House for more work. It was filed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Nine other states filed similar bills this year.

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Advocates celebrate demise of all Oklahoma anti-LGBT bills

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gay rights advocates in Oklahoma celebrated March 14 the demise of more than two dozen bills in the Oklahoma Legislature this year that they say unfairly discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

All 27 bills that were targeted as discriminatory against the constitutional rights of LGBT people failed to advance after a key deadline passed last week, said Troy Stevens, director of the gay rights group Freedom Oklahoma.

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