Windy City Times :NATIONAL Backlash in Tennessee, judge dies, voucher program, hate-crimes bill
More than 140 businesses signed a letter announcing their opposition to Tennessee's recent slew of anti-LGBTQ laws, which has been dubbed the "slate of hate" by activist groups, NBC News noted. The collective, known as the Tennessee Businesses Against Discrimination, included major companies such as Amazon, Nike, Dell, Lyft, Marriott and American Airlines, as well as more than 100 small businesses in Tennessee. The letter specifically targets the passage of HB 836, which allows taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
The first openly gay judge appointed to a U.S. federal court died Feb. 2, ABC News reported. Judge Deborah Batts, 72, presided over the bench at Southern District of New York since 1994 and oversaw major cases including the criminal trial against al-Qaida member Mamdouh Mahmud Salim and the defamation lawsuit filed against Bill O'Reilly. Batts was slated to preside over the upcoming federal trial of Michael Avenatti over his alleged theft of Stormy Daniels' book advance.
The debate over anti-LGBTQ policies in Florida's private-school voucher program spilled into the national arena when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio ( R-Florida ) entered the situation, Tampa Bay Times reported. Fifth Third Bank and Wells Fargo were among the companies withdrawing their support after investigation found that 83 private religious schools have policies explicitly barring LGBTQ students, or, sometimes, the children of LGBTQ parents, from attending. Rubio said the two banks announced they are halting future donations to the school voucher program for low-income students to take part in a "publicity stunt aimed at earning 'wokeness' points with the radical left."
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar ( D-Minnesota ) and Lisa Murkowski ( R-Alaska ) introduced a bill calling for strengthening the enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by clarifying the law's language related to the motive of people charged with a hate crime, The Washington Blade noted. The newly introduced bill, the Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act of 2020, calls for amending the Shepard-Byrd law to make it clear that prosecutors must prove that bias or hate was a "substantial motivating factor" for the crime rather than the sole motive.
By: Andrew Davis
Source: Windy City Times