the other Washington …news in March 2015


PDF of today's Seattle Times front page

Senate to consider bill raising Washington’s minimum wage

Olympia Watch: What’s still standing? A look at this session’s education bills

Priced out? Growing numbers appear to be fleeing King County = Gentrification

 Mayor Murray to ban City Hall travel to Indiana, citing law he calls ‘discriminatory’

Inslee: No special prosecutor for Pasco police shooting

How your U.S. lawmakers voted

A License To Discriminate


By

What You Need To Know About Indiana’s New “Religious Freedom” Law

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) signed a law last Thursday that further enables discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the state. The so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” or RFRA, uses the guise of protecting religious liberty to enable private citizens and organizations to deny services to others if they claim that their religious views are “substantially burdened.”

The event has led to an enormous, broad-based backlash, including from a number of companies that are worried the law is bad for business. It also has led to some confused reporting from major news outlets about what the new law actually does.

Here are the four things you need to know about this license to discriminate.

1. Religious freedom is a core American value and a basic right, which is why it is already protected by the Constitution. The Indiana RFRA is an unnecessary law — one that opens a can of worms that would allow corporations and other private entities to justify discrimination against individuals that might otherwise be protected under law. Religious freedom doesn’t give us the right to harm others or force our religious beliefs on those who hold different views.

2. The new law has caused a massive wave of high-profile backlash. More than a dozen high-profile companies with presences in the state have protested the law, including major tech companies, three of the state’s major universities, the NCAA, the Indiana Pacers basketball team, and Eli Lilly and Company, the global drug giant which employs 11,000 in the state. Hillary Clinton expressed her displeasure, and celebrities from pop star Miley Cyrus to actor George Takei took to social media to slam the law.

3. The Indiana RFRA is different — and worse — than the federal RFRA and other state RFRAs. The Washington Post has written that there are other states with laws like Indiana’s, and Gov. Pence has claimed that President Obama, as an Illinois state Senator, voted for “the very same language.” But while at first glance they may appear similar, there is a significant distinction that extends the ramifications of the Indiana law beyond many others. While other RFRAs apply to disputes between a person or entity and a government, Indiana’s includes a clause that applies to disputes between private citizens or entities. What’s more, while the federal, and many state RFRAs, provide protection only if a law in question substantially burdens a person’s religious exercise, the Indiana RFRA only requires that the complainant believe their religious freedom may “likely” be violated to invoke the law’s protection.

4. Even if the Indiana RFRA is clarified, LGBT discrimination will be legal in much of Indiana and most of the U.S. As we have written about before, 29 states lack explicit sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections, and 32 states lack explicit gender identity nondiscrimination protections. That means a gay person can be legally married one day, and then legally fired based on sexual orientation or gender identity the next.

BOTTOM LINE: Rather than expand exemptions for people who don’t want to follow the law, we should be working to protect all people from discrimination and create the inclusive prosperity that helps our economy and our families. Hopefully the politicians in Indiana (and elsewhere) promoting these kinds of laws to discriminate will see that citizens are not behind them, and companies will take their business elsewhere.

Pamela Anderson via Change.org


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Healthy Fish = Healthy Oceans


Doc Hastings MSA Posted 7/30 dear AlterNet Reader,

We’ve made incredible progress in reversing overfishing. This has been good for both the environment and jobs in fishing. Through smart fishery legislation, we’ve been able to bring back fish populations that were crashing due to years of overfishing.

But all of our progress is about to be destroyed! In the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings (R-WA) is working to reverse the very legislation that has brought our ocean and fishermen such success. Rep. Hastings is trying to pass legislation that would create a new law that would allow overfishing and would eliminate deadlines to rebuild fish populations.

We can’t let this happen. Decades of progress will be reversed if this new legislation is passed. Will you help protect our ocean from overfishing?

Please take action today and tell your Congressional Representative to vote NO to Rep. Hastings’ legislation when it comes to the floor.

I’ve been told that voting could happen before the August recess — we need to speak up now before it’s too late.

Healthy fish populations are essential to ocean ecosystems and to the local economies that depend on them. Please take action today! Together, we can truly make a difference.