Law That Protects Individuals Who Deny Goods and Services to Members of the LGBTQ Community Could Go into Effect Friday in Mississippi

HB 1523 or the Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act is set to go into effect Friday, Oct. 6 after the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused a rehearing by a full court on Barber v. Bryant on Sept. 29, a lawsuit attempting to block the legislation. The court argued that since the law isn’t in effect yet and nobody has been hurt by the bill, litigation cannot be brought against the case.

HB 1523 protects state employees and other citizens who hold and act on certain beliefs  from prosecution for denying services such as Photographs or solemnizing marriages to individuals if it is contrary to these beliefs. The beliefs that are protected are the beliefs that marriage is a union between man and women, sexual relations are reserved to such a union and that sex is determined at birth by ones genetics and anatomy,

This bill was signed by Phil Bryant last year and is a direct response to a bill passed in 2015 that legalized same sex marriage across the country.

“As I have said from the beginning, this law was democratically enacted and is perfectly constitutional,” Bryant said in a statement to Fox News. “The people of Mississippi have the right to ensure that all of our citizens are free to peacefully live and work without fear of being punished for their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Some critics of the bill, such as Director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Jaime Harker, argue that not only is the bill unconstitutional but that it is reminiscent of the pre-civil rights era in Mississippi when people were allowed to openly discriminate against people depending on their beliefs.

“I don’t know if its intentional or not but what I think [the bill is] going to tell a lot of folks in this state is that its open season on you,” Harker said. “What it does is basically take away your confidence as a citizen of this state, that you can be treated equally as everybody else.”

“You don’t know when or how you may have service denied to you and its that uncertainty that I think is going to be the thing that’s most difficult,” Harker said. “You’re just going to be going about your life and at any random moment, somebody behind a counter because they don’t like the way you look or the way you talk or the shirt your wearing or the sticker on your car, will say ‘we don’t serve your kind here.’ We’ve already had that happen once in this state and it wasn’t good for anybody.”

“[The bill] lists a lot of very particular instances it could apply to, that includes private and state government,” Harker said. “What this means is you have no idea now, as a queer person in this state, when you could be denied service based on, not whether its true or not, but whether their perception is that your queer.”

“If your living together, boyfriend and girlfriend, and they think you’re having sex outside of marriage, that is enough reason [to deny service],” Harker said. “If they think you’re trans because you don’t perform your gender the way they think is appropriate, they can deny service.”

People who experience discrimination can report it to the Campaign for Southern Equality, The group that brought the original litigation against the case to court, by calling their hotline (828.242.1559), by email (info@southernequality.org) or by posting on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/southernequality. Their team of attorneys, clergy and organizers are available to offer support and resources.

“HB1523 is the nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law,” The group says on its website. “It will bring undeniable damage to the lives of thousands of Mississippians, paving the way for deep harm and discrimination. As a community, we will fight this law every step of the way. We stand proudly with LGBTQ Mississippians in working to ensure that everyone can live their lives free from fear of state-sanctioned discrimination. We stand ready to challenge discrimination in all forms and will bring lawsuits against those who discriminate against their LGBTQ neighbors and fellow Mississippians.

“Its time for allies in this state to stand up and let the LGBTQ community know they’re valued,” Harker said. “They’re supported. They’re loved. Especially queer kids. That’s the danger we got right now. I think what a lot of queer kids are going to take from this is ‘you’re not wanted here,’ ‘you’re not welcome here,’ ‘we don’t want your kind here.’ That’s the message they’re going to get and if we don’t want to send that message, we as a community have to send a different one.”

Clarion-ledger

Jackson Free Press

Fox News

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Atlanta Decriminalizes Marijuana

Monday the Atlanta city council voted unanimously to pass Ordinance
17-O-1152 which would decriminalize marijuana.

Under current Georgia law, individuals found in possession of an amount of marijuana under an ounce face up to a six month jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fees. Ordinance 17-O-1152 would removed the potential for a jail sentence and reduce the maximum fine for individuals with less than an ounce to $75.

According to the Foundation for Economic Education, 92 percent of marijuana arrest come from the black community.

The bill was introduced in March by council member Kwanza Hall.

“Today we stand with every parent of Atlanta who is fearful of or has seen their children’s lives destroyed, or careers ruined because of a racist policy that unjustly incarcerated minorities by more than 90 percent,” Hall said following the bill’s passage Monday.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed still needs to sign the bill but said on twitter he intended to.

 

Marijuana is still illegal under Georgia state law meaning meaning individuals found in possession outside of Atlanta could still face jail time.

Washington Times

Fortune

NORML

Young Dolph In Critical Condition But Expected to Survive After Being Shot Multiple Times in Hollywood

Tuesday Adolph Thornton, Jr., better known by his stage name Young Dolph, was shot outside the Loews Hotel in Hollywood after an altercation that turned violent. During the altercation Young Dolph was pushed to the ground and shot multiple times.

He was transported to the hospital where he is in critical condition but expected to pull through.

Corey McClendon was charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting Wednesday. McClendon is an acquaintance of Hoe Gotti, a fellow Memphis rapper who has beef with Young Dolph.

Young Dolph was shot at 100 times outside a nightclub in Charlotte earlier this year. Dolph was inside his bulletproof SUV and survived the attack and still made his scheduled performance at the same club. Dolph later made a song about the incident called “100 shots.” The song can be listened to below.

La Times

XXL Mag

USA Today

Martin Luther King Statue Erected In Atlanta On the 54 Anniversary Of King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech

On Monday Aug. 28, the city of Atlanta unveiled a statue dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. on its state capitol grounds.

The statue was unveiled on the 54th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech. It comes three years after Georgia lawmakers endorsed the statue.

The King statue shares the capitol grounds with statues of Confederate general and alleged Ku Klux Klan leader John Brown Gordon and U.S. Sen. Richard Russell, who strongly opposed the civil rights legislation King advocated for.

Currently a Georgia state law prevents the removal of any publicly owned monument dedicated to military service whether it be for the United States or the confederate states.

NPR

Time 

Curbed Atlanta

 

 

An Assistant Police Chief In Estherwood, Louisiana Resigns After Sharing a Racially Charged

A Estherwood assistant police chief Wayne Welsh resigned after sharing a racially charged meme to his Facebook.

As Welsh started to receive backlash for the post he attempted to defend himself by claiming that it isn’t illegal to post pictures on Facebook according to the Sacramento Bee

Since, the post has been removed and Welsh’s Facebook has been made private but not before people captured a picture of the ordeal.

Tuesday Police Chief Ernest Villejoin announced that Welsh would be resigning.

Time 

The Sacramento Bee

The Root

 

Another Incident Of Body Cams Allegedly Capturing Police Misconduct In Baltimore

For the second time in less than two weeks, a video of police officers allegedly planting evidence has surfaced according to the Maryland Public Defenders Office Monday.

According to multiple reports, the officers saw a male enter his girlfriends car and thought it was a drug deal. They then pulled over the car and began to search the vehicle with their body cams on before turning them off and back on later. At one part in the videos a cop can be seen allegedly planting something before other cops found drugs near the spot later in the video.

The video hasn’t been released by the public defenders office but has been received by ABC and a few other news stations.

Following the event Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis asked for the public to allow the investigation to be completed before jumping to conclusions.

“I think it’s irresponsible to jump to a conclusion that the police officers were engaged in police misconduct,” Davis said in a press conference. “That’s a heavy allegation to make.”

Of the seven officers involved in this case only two were referred to the department internal affairs and none were suspended.

Another video that was released by the public defenders office last month shows Officer Richard Pinheiro allegedly placing drugs in a soup can while Officers Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson watched. Pinheiro later returned to the area and found the drugs.

Body cams used by Baltimore Police have a feature that records 30 seconds prior to when the body cam is actually turned on.

Once the video surfaced, Pinheiro was suspend while Simonyan and Brunson were placed on administrative leave.

Follow the surfacing of this video Commissioner Davis released a memo to all his officers warning them not to stage discovering evidence.

The charges in both cases were dropped after the videos surfaced.

According to a spokesperson for Baltimore city’s state attorney 41 cases have been dropped and 55 other cases are being reviewed.

ABC 

CNN

CBS

New York Daily News

The Root

Scientist Have Successfully Used CRISPR-Cas 9 To Fix Disease-causing Mutations In Embryos For The First Time

An international group of scientist have successfully used a technique that allows scientists to make precise changes to genomes with relative ease called CRISPER-Cas 9. The study was first published in online in Nature journal.

Researchers used a mutation in a gene called MYBPC3, which causes the heart muscle to thicken — a condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They injected CRISPR-Cas 9 into 54 embryos and after a few days found that 42 or 72.4 percent of the embryos were free of the mutation without any negative side effects.

The researchers speculate that this technology could be used to help families plagued with genetic disease.

This technology is still far from clinical testing.

Opponents of the research argue the ethnics and fear the technology would be used to make designer babies.

Nature

Time

USA Today

NPR

New York Times

 

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker Introduces A Bill That Would Legalize Marijuana On A Federal Level

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Introduced the Marijuana Justice Act via Facebook Live Tuesday.

If passed, the bill would remove marijuana from the schedule 1 section of the Controlled Substance Act, remove restrictions on the import and export of marijuana enacted by the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act and conform any other necessary amendments.

The bill would also establish a Community Reinvestment Fund to reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs. The fund would be available to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and would be used for a number of things including job training, reentry services, public libraries, and community centers.

The fund would be appropriated $500,000,000 every fiscal year and the money would be available with out any fiscal year limitations.

All federal courts would have to issue an order expunging all federal marijuana convictions filed before the date the bill is passed. Any individual imprisoned for federal marijuana conviction before the bill is passed would be given a hearing after the expunge order and be re-sentenced as if the Marijuana Freedom Act had been in effect at the time of their conviction.

The bill also seeks to address the disproportional arrest and convictions in states without legal marijuana laws by punishing said states. Under the Marijuana Freedom Act, states with disproportionate arrest for minorities and non-minorities and low income and high income individuals would see a reduction of no more than 10 percent of fund from the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. All funds withheld would then be deposited into the Community Reinvestment Fund.

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