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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 23, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 04
Republicans move to reverse LGBT gains
Section One
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Republicans move to reverse LGBT gains

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Republican lawmakers are introducing new measures to roll back many of the gains made by the LGBT community in the past few years.

Texas Congressman Randy Weber has reintroduced his State Marriage Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted outside the state in which the couple resides.

In other words, if a couple married in California but then moved to Texas, they would not have any federal spousal rights including tax benefits or Social Security survivor benefits. This would be true even if the couple moved to a state where same-sex marriage was also legal and the couple's marriage was recognized under state law.

Weber first introduced this bill in January 2014, but it died in a House subcommittee when only 25% of the Republicans on the panel signed on as cosponsors.

In a January 12 appearance on a Family Research Council radio talk show, Weber said the bill would do better this session because Republicans control both houses of Congress. Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have promised to sponsor the Bill in the Senate, Weber said.

'Then we'll see what the president does with it,' he added. 'But I'm not holding my breath for the president to sign it.'

Even if Weber's bill passes the House, its chances in the Senate seem slim. Republicans control the majority, but they still lack the 60 votes necessary to get a bill to the floor for an up or down vote. That means there would need to be significant Democratic defections to pass the measure.

Meanwhile, four Texas state lawmakers from the Plano area plan to introduce legislation that would bar cities and counties from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people. The proposed legislation would also nullify existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.

Some 7.5 million Texans, more than one-quarter of the state's population, currently live in cities where such laws are on the books.

The bill comes in response to the passage of an equal rights ordinance by the Plano City Council last month. The measure outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Texas state lawmakers in both the House and Senate have also introduced proposed constitutional amendments that would carve out broad religious exemptions to local anti-bias laws. These would require two-thirds affirmative votes in both chambers, while the Plano group's bill would only need simple majorities to pass.



In Virginia, Republican state Delegate Bob Marshall has introduced a bill that would make it legal for business owners to refuse service to same-sex couples and 'homosexual behavior' on religious grounds.

The measure says that any person seeking to obtain or renew a business license 'shall not be required to perform, assist, consent to, or participate in any action or refrain from performing, assisting, consenting to or participating in any action as a condition of obtaining or renewing the license, registration or certificate where such condition would violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex 'marriage' or homosexual behavior.'

By including both the words 'marriage' and 'behavior,' business owners would be able to discriminate against both legally married people as well as unmarried people in the LGBT community. For example, teachers could refuse to have LGBT students in their classes, or doctors could refuse to treat LGBT patients. Movie theaters would be able to ban people they perceive to be Gay and retail businesses could also put up signs denying service to LGBT customers.

Marshall, who has a history of opposing Gay rights, has previously tried and failed to get Gays and Lesbians excluded from the state's National Guard. In 2012 he led an effort to block a judge's appointment on the grounds the nominee was Gay, saying, 'sodomy is not a civil right.'

Marshall's bill will be heard by the House General Laws Committee, controlled by Republicans and chaired by Todd Gilbert, also a fierce opponent of LGBTI rights, but even if it passes through the Virginia legislature, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to veto it.

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