Religious freedom protections: state-by-state

by The Associated Press  |  published on May 28, 2016

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:

Some Alabama lawmakers in the last session unsuccessfully pushed a measure to prevent the state from refusing to license child care service providers who decline services that conflict with their religious beliefs. Religious organizations contract with the state to provide some childcare services, and opponents of the proposal have argued that the bill could be used to exclude gay and lesbian couples from adopting children or being foster parents. The bills were indefinitely postponed. Another bill that also failed would have done away with marriage licenses signed by probate judges also did not win final approval. The bill was pushed after some probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing same-sex marriage.

In Alaska, during the recently ended regular session, bills barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity went nowhere, and bills to allow clergy to refuse to solemnize a marriage without being subject to criminal or civil liability failed to gain traction. Lawmakers are currently in special session. The special session agenda does not include these bills.

Arkansas lawmakers last year approved a revised version of a religious objections measure after the initial version faced widespread criticism that it was anti-LGBT. The Legislature also enacted a law aimed at preventing cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination measures that include sexual orientation or gender identity. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has recommended that schools disregard the Obama administration’s directive regarding which restrooms transgender students can use. A Republican lawmaker has said she is working on legislation for next year’s session in response to the directive.

  • used_to_be_a_liberal

    The country seems to be growing a backbone, however, be cautious about these state by state religious freedom laws, on the surface, like any other do-gooder law they will appear to be very appealing, just keep in mind that these kind of laws are not exclusive to Christians alone, they will apply to every other religion that is out there, including Islam.
    Here is a story from the state Georgia, and it includes a small one from Germany. It relates to growing a backbone.
    All over the western world Muslim women are showing up for court wearing Islamic head coverings that preclude the judges ability to recognize who they are and to discern their emotional state and truthfulness in court

    Burqa Wearing Woman Refuses to Remove Veil In Court- Judge’s response is Awesome.

    According to American News, a judge in Georgia has sparked controversy after barring two Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves from entering his courtroom, and landing one of them behind bars.

    Judge Keith Rollins of Douglasville, Georgia reportedly ordered 41-year-old Lisa Valentine to jail after she refused to remove her scarf before entering his courtroom. Judge Rollins pointed to rules that governed appropriate dress as listed by the state.

    This is not the first time Rollins had made the controversial call. Last week, Sabreen Abdulrahmaan was forced to leave his court before her son’s probation hearing because she would not remove her scarf.

    Valentine was handcuffed by security and sentenced to 10 days in jail when she declined to defend her actions at the security checkpoint, her husband Omar Hall reports.

    “It’s an issue of religious freedom,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations old reports. “It’s an issue of access to the American legal system.”

    In a German court Amira Behari refused the judges request to remove her headpiece saying, “I have Allah at the end of the world who will see me right at the end. I will not do this.”

    The prosecutor’s office in Munich consulted with Koranic experts who said “it is permissible for a woman to remove her niqab before the judicial authorities such as judges, police, prosecutors on the basis of needs and damage prevention.”

    If Behari doesn’t submit to the requirements, she will face either a fine or jail time.

  • Rodney Steward

    Keep fighting this sickness, they can tie it up in court till the boy is gone, and then HOPEFULLY Trump will completely do away with anything Obama, even the Presidential pictures, just a black spot for him!! 🙂

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