Speed Read: A pulpit for bullies
TENNESSEE BUILDS THE BULLY PULPIT: The Tennessee legislature this week sent to the governor’s desk a bill to allow public school students to “express beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.” The “Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act” passed the House on March 10 with a 90 to 2 vote and passed the Senate unanimously on Monday. Right-wing proponents of the legislation said it was aimed at enabling students to express their views against homosexuality. The ACLU says the measure will make it easier for bullies to target LGBT people. Republican Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill.
NOT ADJUSTING WELL: That multi-denominational Christian organization that said Monday it was “adjusting” to the reality that many churches allow a more charitable approach to same-sex marriage than others announced Wednesday that it would nix that adjustment plan. World Vision’s statement yesterday said its board had made a “mistake” and the group would revert back to its old policy. That old policy requires that any unmarried employee be celibate and that any married employee would have to be married to a person of the opposite sex.
NOT RECOGNIZING MUCH: Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder said Wednesday that, since a federal appeals court granted a stay of a decision striking the state ban on same-sex couples marrying, the state would not be recognizing any of those 323-some marriages that took place before the stay was granted. “The couples with certificates of marriage from Michigan courthouses last Saturday were legally married and the marriage was valid when entered into,” said Snyder. “Because the stay brings Michigan law on this issue back into effect, the rights tied to these marriages are suspended until the stay is lifted or Judge Friedman’s decision is upheld on appeal.”
PRESIDENT MEETS POPE: President Obama was set to meet with Pope Francis this morning (5:30 EDT) at the Vatican. Two human rights groups sent a letter to President Obama Tuesday urging that he use the meeting “to reinforce Pope Francis’ positive statements on the inherent dignity of LGBT people.” The letter, from Human Rights First and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights First, noted that the Pope will be traveling to Uganda later this year.
PRESIDENT TO EUROPEAN YOUTH: President Obama told an audience of young people in Brussels Wednesday that the difficulties of globalization and integration have enabled a type of “politics that too often targets immigrants or gays or those who seem somehow different.” But, he said in his “Address to European Youth,” “Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights. Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That’s what will make America strong. That’s what will make Europe strong. That’s what makes us who we are.
NOT LAUNCHING PARTISAN ATTACK: Illinois’ Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk told the Chicago Sun Times that he will not get involved in the campaign to unseat the state’s other senator, Democrat Dick Durbin. Republican State Senator Jim Oberweis is challenging the three-term incumbent. “I’m going to be protecting my relationship with Dick,” said Kirk, “and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois.” Durbin, who has a very strong record of supporting equal rights for LGBT people, is considered to have a relatively safe seat this election. Kirk, who is in his first term as senator, has been one of the few Republicans to vote for LGBT equal rights, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
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