Indiana style gay bashing bill is advancing:
A controversial bill that proponents say will restore religious freedom but opponents say will weaken local nondiscrimination ordinances is up for a vote in the House of Delegates on Thursday.
The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents are calling the “License to Discriminate” Act, was on second reading in the House of Delegates Wednesday.
Three amendments, offered by Democrats, failed. One amendment, offered by Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, passed. It would limit the amount that could be paid to those who would file lawsuits as a result of the legislation.
House Bill 4012 establishes a legal process for courts to follow when determining whether a person’s religious beliefs have been violated. Because the bill allows people and businesses to argue in court that local nondiscrimination ordinances, among other laws, shouldn’t apply to them, civil rights advocates warn the bill could lead to discrimination against LGBT individuals, as well as other historically discriminated against groups.
Shott’s amendment removed language that would have allowed claimants to sue for compensatory damages, and limited relief to injunctive or declaratory relief and reimbursement of costs and reasonable attorney fees. It passed on a voice vote.
Another amendment resulted in a debate, with Republicans opposing more power for local governments — an argument that Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D- Pendleton, called hypocritical.
The amendment would have removed “and local” from the section of the bill that states “this article applies to all state and local laws,” in an effort to protect the seven cities and towns in West Virginia with nondiscrimination ordinances that extend to the LGBT community from lawsuits.
Sponaugle said that many in the Legislature “beat their desks” and say “darn that federal government.”
“Well, we come down here and act like hypocrites,” he said. “We look down our nose at these municipalities… Let’s try to be consistent in our opposition to things.”
Not that this bill is needed, because apparently WV clerks are going the Kim Davis route and speaking their minds:
Brookover and her partner, Amanda Abramovich, wanted a marriage license. They got one, along with an earful from a deputy clerk in the office, who told them that their relationship is wrong and that God will judge them.
Brookover and Abramovich had expected maybe an eye roll or some sign of disgust. They said they weren’t anticipating that they would be told they were “an abomination.”
“It just takes one person to remind you how closed-minded our world is,” Brookover said.
Debbie Allen, the deputy clerk who processed their marriage license, and another deputy clerk who was there, Angela Moore, disputed some of the allegations from the couple and Brookover’s mother, Jill Goff, who also was there. They disagree on how loud Allen was and whether the word “abomination” was used, although Moore said she couldn’t hear everything.
“I was working on what I was supposed to be doing and, honestly, I didn’t care to make eye contact with them,” Moore said.
The clerks don’t dispute that Allen told the couple that what they were doing was wrong and that they would be judged, but they also stressed that they did not view the statement as an “attack.”
“We did not attack them,” Allen said. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.”
Brookover and Abramovich, though, say Allen huffed, took their driver’s licenses, made copies, slammed down the copies and then, for two to three minutes, yelled that what they were doing was wrong in her eyes and in God’s eyes and that no one in Gilmer County would ever marry them.
The couple had brought family members. They had the camera ready. It was supposed to be a happy day. Instead, in Brookover’s words, they were “flabbergasted and hurt and angry like you wouldn’t believe.”
Allen said she briefly and calmly told the couple what they were doing was wrong and that God would judge them, and then continued assisting them as she would other couples.
“I just told them my opinion,” she said. “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that’s just my religious belief.”
Because what WV really needs is bible humpers killing our tourism industry, which in 2010 (last figures I could find) generated $4.2 billion dollars and was responsible for 44,000 jobs. Coal only has a 3 billion dollar impact, to give you a comparison.