Mississippi anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ law takes effect

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A Mississippi law enabling sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” took effect Tuesday as a result of a federal appeals court decision throwing out a legal challenge to the statute.

The law, House Bill 1523, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last year in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. The purported intent of the law is to protect individuals who have religious beliefs contrary to the ruling, but the measure approaches that in a way that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

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Michigan sued over anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ adoption law

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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ABOVE: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law religious freedom adoption bills. (Photo by Major.guy2012; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The state of Michigan is facing a first-of-its-kind lawsuit contesting its anti-LGBT “religious freedom” adoption law, which allows taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement to LGBT families.

The 22-page complaint was filed Wednesday in federal court in Michigan by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of two same-sex couples denied service by Catholic adoption agencies and a Michigan resident raised in foster care who believes she would have been unable to find home placement if the law were in place years ago.

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No answers from White House on trans ban, ‘religious freedom’ EO

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Amid ongoing media reports about the White House plan to bar transgender people from the U.S. military, President Trump’s top spokesperson had no answers Thursday on the status of the proposal.

During her regular news conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged in response to a question about how close the administration is to finalizing the policy and the discretion the Defense Department will have in implementing it.

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Sessions: DOJ guidance on ‘religious freedom’ on the way

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Guidance from the U.S. Justice Department assuring protections for “religious freedom” — which is considered code among conservatives to mean anti-LGBT discrimination — is coming shortly, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week.

Sessions said the guidance is coming soon during closed-door remarks before a “religious freedom” summit in Orange County, Calif., hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT legal group. Although the Justice Department refused to make the speech public, the Federalist, a conservative website, published a copy Thursday.

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Sessions to rally crowd at anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ summit

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — known for his anti-LGBT record — was set to speak Tuesday at an event for the anti-LGBT legal group representing before the U.S. Supreme Court a Colorado baker that denied a wedding cake to a same-sex couple for religious reasons.

Media outlets, including Buzzfeed, reported Sessions’ public schedule was updated Tuesday during his trip to California to include on the same day at 5:30 local time a speech in Orange County at Alliance Defending Freedom’s “religious freedom” summit. The remarks were closed to press.

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5th Circuit rules for Mississippi anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ law

By : Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a court order against a “religious freedom” law in Mississippi that would enable sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination, citing a lack of standing for plaintiffs in litigation against the statute.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith issued a decision allowing enforcement of HB 1523, which had been blocked as a result of a lower court order.

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Trump ‘religious freedom’ order silent on LGBT issues

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Many LGBT advocates breathed sighs of relief after learning that a long-awaited “religious freedom” executive order issued by President Trump on Thursday did not include specific anti-LGBT provisions that media reports said were included in an earlier draft of the order.

But officials with several national LGBT advocacy organizations expressed concern that the two-page executive order, called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” gives U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions authority to interpret existing federal laws and regulations in a way that could result in discrimination against LGBT people.

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White House: ‘Religious freedom’ EO will affect churches, not LGBT people

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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An expected “religious freedom” order from President Trump will address the tax-exemption status of churches as opposed to undermining LGBT rights, according to multiple media reports of a White House background briefing.

On the call Wednesday night, a White House official said the executive order would work to fulfill Trump’s promise to repeal Johnson Amendment — a 1954 that prohibits 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, such as churches — from making political endorsements, according to Buzzfeed. Repealing the Johnson Amendment was among the campaign promises of Trump, who said he’d “destroy” the measure.

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LGBT groups prepare for fight over Trump ‘religious freedom’ EO

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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In the wake of a media report that President Trump is preparing to sign a “religious freedom” executive order on Thursday, LGBT groups are making plans to fight the measure on the assumption it will enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign is planning a rally and news conference at noon Wednesday at Lafayette Square outside of the White House to raise awareness about a directive that the organization says would put millions of LGBT people at risk of discrimination.

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Virginia Gov. vetoes religious freedom bill

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed a bill that critics contend would have allowed discrimination against same-sex couples.

Senate Bill 1324, which state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) introduced, would not require any person or religious institution to “participate in the solemnization of any marriage” that conflicts “with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” The measure would also prohibit state officials from punishing people and organizations that refuse to take part in a gay or lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.

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Spicer hints at coming action on anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ order

By : Chris Johnson of the Washingston Blade, Courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Amid renewed concerns President Trump would sign a “religious order” undermining LGBT rights, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday he expects the administration would soon “have something.”

Spicer made the remarks in response to a question from the Daily Signal, an arm of the anti-LGBT Heritage Foundation, on whether the order is still coming and whether it would extend beyond the Johnson Amendment, a law Trump has pledged to repeal barring churches from making political endorsements.

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Evidence leaks out about anti-LGBTQ executive order as Trump vows to bring religion to the ballot box

By : Billy Manes
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Over the past few days there has been extensive talk about an executive order by President Donald Trump that would roll back LGBTQ rights obtained under the Obama administration. First came the quiet chirps of hidden intelligence, received here at Watermark Jan. 30 verbatim via Facebook, Twitter and email. There were many corroborating reports with much of the same verbiage.

We reported that with due outrage, because… well, that’s what communities do. The following day, Jan. 31, reports surfaced from major sources proclaiming that the whole thing was a lie and Trump would support LGBTQ interests, at least on the federal employment level, as laid out by his predecessor, Barack Obama. All over the nation, people proclaimed once again that the media was making things up. The term “gaslighting” juxtaposed with “fascism” seemed a bit much for the modern populace, and so it was. Trump wasn’t ever intending to come after us. Commenters roiled, “George Soros is paying for all of this.” It was a mess that seemed to clean itself up in one news cycle.

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