Thursday, February 27, 2014

Who Else Is Behind the "License to Discriminate" Bills?

What a month this has been for LGBTQ civil rights... And the Republican Party's tortured views on them. Earlier this month, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Governor Brian Sandoval (R) decided to drop their legal fight against marriage equality. Yet even after Sandoval did this, his party didn't go along for the ride. Rather, Attorney General candidate Adam Laxalt (R) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) twisted themselves into pretzels to try to spin away their opposition to civil marriage equality.

And then, outgoing Assembly Member and current NV-04 candidate Cresent Hardy (R) spoke of "segregation laws", and it all went downhill from there. Shortly after Hardy made those infamous comments, attention turned to Arizona's SB 1062, a "license to discriminate" bill masquerading as "religious freedom" legislation. It was actually based on the same model legislation that inspired the original SB 192 that Hardy cosponsored. And that model legislation has recently been popping up in even more state legislatures across the nation.

So who wrote this "license to discriminate" model legislation? Where did it all come from? Yesterday, we took a closer look at the origins of SB 192/SB 1062 and uncovered a trail that leads to the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a shadowy front group that masks all the Koch Industries/"TEA Party, Inc." money being poured into this "license to discriminate" campaign.

However, there's even more to this story. It turns out that the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been working hand-in-hand with another shadowy front group hiding another set of familiar players.

The Center for Arizona Policy has been decrying Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's (R) veto of SB 1062. After all, it prodded Arizona G-O-TEA legislators to introduce and pass the Ethics and Public Policy Center's "religious freedom" model legislation. And it's a state affiliate of CitizenLink, a nationwide religious right outfit.

But wait, who's CitizenLink? Where did that comes from? It turns out that CitizenLink is the 501(c)4 arm of Focus on the Family, a notorious anti-equality organization that's been devoted to fighting against LGBTQ civil rights for over a quarter century. And not only has Focus on the Family been fighting against LGBTQ civil rights in America, but it's recently become involved with Russia's state sanctioned homophobia & transphobia campaign. And it's never hesitated to stoop to shocking lows to promote its extreme agenda.

In the wake of all this "religious freedom" hogwash controversy, State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Mark Hutchison (R) performed some linguistic gymnastics to try to distance himself (and running mate Brian Sandoval) from the bill he cosponsored in Carson City last year. Now, we have a better understanding of why he's done this (along with other Republican politicians who are running away from the now toxic legislation). And why's that? Simple: It's not easy conveying a "moderate" persona when one is carrying water (and legislation!) for the Kochs' "TEA" powered empire and the extreme religious right.

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