Speed Read: Religious boycott?
GEORGIA BILL FAILS, BOYCOTT THREATENED: A religious bias bill pending in the Georgia House and Senate appears to be dead for this legislative session. The bill failed to pass one chamber by Monday, the deadline for action this session. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported the bill’s sponsor in the senate, Josh McKoon, said the impression many have that the bill is anti-gay has attracted negative reactions from such major business entities as Delta Air Lines. Said McKoon: “I’m not going to speculate as to the motivation, other than to say that when large businesses weigh in that make lots of campaign contributions and carry a lot of weight down here at the Capitol, they obviously are going to influence the debate.” The AJC also reported that supporters of the bill vowed to boycott Delta and four other businesses – Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, and InterContinental Hotels—for publicly opposing the bill.
MISSISSIPPI DEADLINE TODAY: The Mississippi House Judiciary Committee must decide today whether to advance a religious bias bill or it will be dead for this legislative session. The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 2681) passed the state senate January 31. Similar to the bill that was passed by the Arizona legislature and vetoed by the governor, the bill before the committee today states that “State action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person’s exercise of religion in that particular instance is both…essential to further a compelling governmental interest” and “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” The remaining sections of the bill call for adding “In God We Trust” to the state’s seal.
AG INSTRUCTED DEFIANCE OF COURTS: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sent all county clerks in the state a memo last fall instructing them to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if a federal judge declared the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying to be unconstitutional. That was the testimony in a federal courtroom in Detroit Monday by Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown. Brown is a defendant in DeBoer v. Snyder, a lawsuit challenging the law barring same-sex couples from marrying. She said a second page of the memo eventually explained that the state would ask for a stay of such a court decision. “But I think especially if you don’t look at the attachment and you just read just the body of the email, you know,” said Brown, “you open your email and that’s the part that comes up that says that same sex marriage licenses should not be issued basically — regardless of, you know, what the judge says.”
MICHIGAN OFFERS EXPERTS: The state began offering witnesses Monday to defend the state ban on same-sex couples marrying. This is week two of the trial, and the Detroit Free Press reported U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the state’s first witness, Sherif Girgis, did not qualify to serve as an expert. The state’s second witness, University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus, was deemed qualified and said parenting by same-sex couples is so new, it would be “most prudent” to continue banning adoption by unmarried same-sex couples. Regnerus is back on the witness stand today for cross-examination by the attorney for a lesbian couple that wishes to marry in order to adopt the three children they have been raising together.