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beach monitoring program – Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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Sep 302015

Routine water quality monitoring is conducted at all of the State Park beaches and many locally managed beaches in Iowa. In order to help protect the health of those wishing to recreate at the beaches, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources works with various public health and management agencies throughout the state to inform the public of the most current water quality conditions. Outdoor recreation at beaches in Iowa is typically limited to the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Therefore, most beach monitoring is conducted and standard swimming advisories are issued during this time frame. Results for specific beaches are published as soon as they become available.

For up to date information, call the DNR Beach Monitoring Hotline at (515) 725-3434. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us by email.

o Beaches that have had two or fewer one-time standard (samples over 235 cfu/100 ml) exceedances of the state standard during a running five years will be monitored less frequently. These beaches will be monitored on a weekly basis from the week before Memorial Day through Labor Day. All other state-owned beaches will be monitored from April 15th through October 31st.

Posting of Signs/Advisories

Why monitor beaches?

Swimming in lakes or any other natural body of water involves risks. By far, the greatest risk is drowning caused in part by cloudy water, fast currents, submerged objects, or the lack of lifeguards. Water at Iowas state-owned swimming beaches is monitored to assess the public health risk from waterborne diseases that may result from immersion in the water.

What is the DNR monitoring?

Water samples from the beaches are analyzed for microorganisms, known as bacteria.These indicator bacteria are one-celled organisms visible only under a microscope.High levels of these bacteria indicate that the water has come into contact with fecal material. Indicator bacteria (Bacteria that normally are not pathogenic [disease causing] but serve as indicators of certain types of pollution such as sewage or gasoline spills) are commonly used by state environmental agencies and by the U.S. EPA to determine the suitability of beaches for swimming-type uses.

Can these bacteria make me sick?

The indicator bacteria for which we monitor do not themselves make you sick. These bacteria are easy to collect and analyze and are relatively safe to handle. They are very common in the environment, including lakes and rivers.High levels of these bacteria indicate that the water has come into contact with fecal material and that pathogens or disease-causing microorganisms may be present.

Why doesn’t the DNR monitor pathogens?

Disease-causing organisms, known as pathogens, exist as bacteria, viruses or parasites.Monitoring for these pathogens is expensive and difficult. Large volumes of water are needed to monitor for pathogens because they are present in such small numbers. Many different types of pathogens exist and testing for a single pathogen may not accurately assess the health risk present due to other pathogens. Because indicator bacteria occur in greater numbers than pathogens and are easier to isolate in a laboratory, monitoring for them is more cost-effective.

What are the sources of these bacteria and pathogens?

Fecal bacteria, and sometimes pathogens, are present in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, including humans. They are carried into the water with fecal material. Fecal contamination occurs due to improperly constructed and operated septic systems and sewage treatment plants, manure spills, storm water runoff from lands with wildlife and pet droppings, or direct contamination from waterfowl, livestock, or small children in the water.

Samples are collected weekly at 37 state owned beaches from April 15 through October 31.This period corresponds to the recreational season when the Iowa Water Quality Standards, designed to protect swimming-type uses, is in effect. Water samples are taken at three locations along the beach and at three water depths (ankle-, knee- and waist-deep).The water from these locations is mixed to form one sample, which is placed in a sterilized bottle and taken to a laboratory for analysis.

What levels of indicator bacteria are considered safe?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidelines for the amount of bacteria acceptable in water bodies designated for primary body contact recreation, including swimming and water skiing. In Iowa, these waters are called “Class A waters”. The bacteria level in the water is acceptable if the geometric mean is not greater than 126 colonies per 100 milliliters of water for E. coli bacteria.According to U.S. EPA guidelines, the geometric mean is calculated using at least five consecutive samples collected during a 30-day period. Additionally, Iowa also has a “one-time” standart for E. coli bacteria of 235 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water.

What factors cause high levels of bacteria?

Fecal contamination of beach water occurs due to improperly constructed and operated septic systems and sewage treatment plants, manure spills, storm water runoff from lands with wildlife and pet droppings, or direct contamination from waterfowl, livestock, or small children in the water. In Iowa, rain appears to be one of the most important factors in generating high levels of bacteria.Surface runoff after a heavy rainfall may transport high levels of fecal bacteria to the water at the beach. The rain also increases the sediment in the water causing it to be murky. Since bacteria are destroyed by sunlight, murky water aids in their survival.

What are the potential illnesses associated with swimming? Thousands of people swim at Iowa’s beaches every year and most of them do not get sick. However, children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of becoming ill when in contact with contaminated water.A variety of diarrheal diseases, and other infections such as skin, ear and respiratory infections, are associated with swimming in contaminated water. Diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses associated with swimming. Diarrhea is spread when disease- causing microorganisms from human or animal feces get into the water. You can get diarrhea by accidentally swallowing small amounts of water that contains these microorganisms. To date, the DNR has received no verified reports of illnesses caused by swimming or water skiing in Iowas waters. However, these illnesses could be under-reported because the symptoms are so common and people can be infected by these pathogenic microbes through other means, such as from contaminated meat, not washing their hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

How can I avoid getting sick?

Avoid swimming after a heavy rainfall when indicator bacteria levels are generally higher and the water is murky. Avoid swallowing the water. Young children swimming at the beach can leak fecal bacteria and associated pathogens from their diapers, so change your childs diapers often and visit bathrooms frequently. If you or your child has diarrhea, please stay out of the water because you may contaminate the water with fecal material. Although swimmers with diarrhea do not mean to contaminate the water, this is often how disease is spread.

Can I eat fish from waters with high levels of fecal contamination?

Yes, high levels of indicator bacteria or pathogens have no influence on the quality of fish for human consumption. While alive, the fish is protected from water-borne contaminants by the skin, scales and mucus covering its body. Proper fish cleaning, rinsing, refrigeration and cooking should always be used.

Additional information can be found atHawkeye Area WQ Initiative

beach monitoring program – Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Washington Beaches –

 Beaches  Comments Off on Washington Beaches –
Aug 202015

MAIN Beaches US Washington State Beaches

Although the changeable climate of the Northwest doesn’t give coastal areas the reputation it deserves, the summer can be like a day at the beach in the state of Washington.

When the weather’s fine, sandy beaches on Puget Sound and swimming lakes in the Cascades and the Pacific coast offer visitors a chance to enjoy the beach and water sports of all kinds.

And there’s so much to do along the Northern Pacific coast besides swimming. Try beachcombing, clamming, prime Washington State whale watching, and more. It’s all right here — including the top Seattle summer extravaganza at Seafair in July.

Oh, and did we mention the wilderness beaches of Olympic National Park?

Have fun!

DID YOU KNOW? Washington State beach fun facts:

Stretching 28-miles long, Long Beach, WA is the largest and longest sandy beach in the Northwest.

After missing the entrance to what was later named the Columbia River, English explorer John Meares dubbed the headland jutting out into the Pacific Ocean “Cape Disappointment.” Today, Cape Disappointment State Park happily features 27 miles of ocean beach, two lighthouses, camping and spectacularly scenic hiking trails.

Deception Pass State Park (Whidbey Island) was named by early explorers who mistakenly assumed Whidbey Island was a peninsula. Today, the island encompasses one of the most popular state parks in Washington, and its miles of sandy beaches is considered some of the most beautiful in the Puget Sound area.

The area around Alki Beach was named by the Chinook tribe meaning “eventually” or “by and by.” Today, Alki Beach is considered one of Seattle’s hippest, laid-back beach scenes.

More about Washington State beaches around the Web:

– This is the official city Parks and Recreation site with locations, beach hours and amenities, maps and directions for Green Lake Park, Matthews Beach, Seward Beach, Pritchard Island and more.

Welcome to Ocean Shores Washington – Find places for surfing, clamming, swimming, boating and sailing, and other diversions for landlubbers, as well.

The Best Washington State Beaches to Collect Beach Glass – Want to add to your beachcombing collection? You’ll find plenty to explore in this review of top locations for beach treasure at Alki Beach, Port Townsend, Deception Pass, and more.

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Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …

 Misc  Comments Off on Essay: John Rawls and Robert Nozick: liberalism vs …
Aug 152015

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These days , in the occasional university philosophy classroom, the differences between Robert Nozicks Anarchy, State, and Utopia (libertarianism) and John Rawls A Theory of Justice (social liberalism) are still discussed vigorously. In order to demonstrate a broad spectrum of possible political philosophies it is necessary to define the outer boundaries, these two treatises stand like sentries at opposite gatesof the polis

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Rawls presents an account of justice in the form of two principles: (1) liberty principle= peoples equal basic liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience (religion), and the right to vote should be maximized, and (2) difference principle= inequalities in social and economic goods are acceptable only if they promote the welfare of the least advantaged members of society. Rawls writes in the social contract tradition. He seeks to define equilibrium points that, when accumulated, form a civil system characterized by what he calls justice as fairness. To get there he deploys an argument whereby people in an original position (state of nature), make decisions (legislate laws) behind a veil of ignorance (of their place in the society rich or poor) using a reasoning technique he calls reflective equilibrium. It goes something like: behind the veil of ignorance, with no knowledge of their own places in civil society, Rawls posits that reasonable people will default to social and economic positions that maximize the prospects for the worst off feed and house the poor in case you happen to become one. Its much like the prisoners dilemma in game theory. By his own words Rawls = left-liberalism.

Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, libertarian response to Rawls which argues that only a minimal state devoted to the enforcement of contracts and protecting people against crimes like assault, robbery, fraud can be morally justified. Nozick suggests that the fundamental question of political philosophy is not how government should be organized but whether there should be any state at all, he is close to John Locke in that government is legitimate only to the degree that it promotes greater security for life, liberty, and property than would exist in a chaotic, pre-political state of nature. Nozick concludes, however, that the need for security justifies only a minimal, or night-watchman, state, since it cannot be demonstrated that citizens will attain any more security through extensive governmental intervention. (Nozick p.25-27)

the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection. (Nozick Preface p.ix)



Some Practical Questions for Rawls:

Some Practical Questions for Nozick:

Read The Liberal Imagination of Frederick Douglass for an excellent discussion on the state of liberalism in America today.


Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Robert Nozick. Basic Books. 1974

A Theory of Justice. John Rawls. Harvard University Press. 1971

Disclaimer: This is a forum for me to capture in digital type my understanding of various philosophies and philosophers. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the interpretations.

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Racial Integrity Act of 1924 – Wikipedia, the free …

 Eugenics  Comments Off on Racial Integrity Act of 1924 – Wikipedia, the free …
Aug 042015

On March 20, 1924 the Virginia General Assembly passed two laws that had arisen out of contemporary concerns about eugenics and race: SB 219, titled “The Racial Integrity Act[1]” and SB 281, “An ACT to provide for the sexual sterilization of inmates of State institutions in certain cases”, henceforth referred to as “The Sterilization Act”. The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was one of a series of laws designed to prevent inter racial relationships.

The Racial Integrity Act required that a racial description of every person be recorded at birth and divided society into only two classifications: white and colored (essentially all other, which included numerous American Indians). It defined race by the “one-drop rule”, defining as “colored” persons with any African or Native American ancestry. It also expanded the scope of Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage (anti-miscegenation law) by criminalizing all marriages between white persons and non-white persons. In 1967 the law was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in its ruling on Loving v. Virginia.

The Sterilization Act provided for compulsory sterilization of persons deemed to be “feebleminded,” including the “insane, idiotic, imbecile, or epileptic.”[2]

These two laws were Virginia’s implementation of Harry Laughlin’s “Model Eugenical Sterilization Law”,[3] published two years earlier in 1922. The Sterilization Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Buck v. Bell 274 U.S. 200 (1927). This had appealed the order for compulsory sterilization of Carrie Buck, who was an inmate in the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, and her daughter and mother.

Together these laws implemented the practice of “scientific eugenics” in Virginia.

In the 1920s, Virginia’s registrar of statistics, Dr. Walter Ashby Plecker, was allied with the newly founded Anglo-Saxon Club of America in persuading the Virginia General Assembly to pass the Racial Integrity Law of 1924.[4] The club was founded in Virginia by John Powell of Richmond in the fall of 1922; within a year the club for white males had more than 400 members and 31 posts in the state.[5]

In 1923, the Anglo-Saxon Club founded two posts in Charlottesville, one for the town and one for students at the University of Virginia. It sought (and was successful in gaining) passage of legislation to classify all persons as belonging either to the “white” or “Negro” races. A major goal was to end “amalgamation” by racial intermarriage. Members claimed also to support Anglo-Saxon ideas of fair play. Later that fall, a state convention of club members was to be held in Richmond.[6]

The Virginia assembly’s 21st-century explanation for the laws summarizes their development:

The now-discredited pseudo-science of eugenics was based on theories first propounded in England by Francis Galton, the cousin and disciple of famed biologist Charles Darwin. The goal of the “science” of eugenics was to improve the human race by eliminating what the movement’s supporters considered hereditary disorders or flaws through selective breeding and social engineering. The eugenics movement proved popular in the United States, with Indiana enacting the nation’s first eugenics-based sterilization law in 1907.[7]

In the following five decades, other states followed Indiana’s example by implementing the eugenic laws. Wisconsin was the first State to enact legislation that required the medical certification of persons who applied for marriage licenses. The law that was enacted in 1913 generated attempts at similar legislation in other states.

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Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …

 Liberty  Comments Off on Positive and Negative Liberty (Stanford Encyclopedia of …
Jul 242015

Imagine you are driving a car through town, and you come to a fork in the road. You turn left, but no one was forcing you to go one way or the other. Next you come to a crossroads. You turn right, but no one was preventing you from going left or straight on. There is no traffic to speak of and there are no diversions or police roadblocks. So you seem, as a driver, to be completely free. But this picture of your situation might change quite dramatically if we consider that the reason you went left and then right is that you’re addicted to cigarettes and you’re desperate to get to the tobacconists before it closes. Rather than driving, you feel you are being driven, as your urge to smoke leads you uncontrollably to turn the wheel first to the left and then to the right. Moreover, you’re perfectly aware that your turning right at the crossroads means you’ll probably miss a train that was to take you to an appointment you care about very much. You long to be free of this irrational desire that is not only threatening your longevity but is also stopping you right now from doing what you think you ought to be doing.

This story gives us two contrasting ways of thinking of liberty. On the one hand, one can think of liberty as the absence of obstacles external to the agent. You are free if no one is stopping you from doing whatever you might want to do. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be free. On the other hand, one can think of liberty as the presence of control on the part of the agent. To be free, you must be self-determined, which is to say that you must be able to control your own destiny in your own interests. In the above story you appear, in this sense, to be unfree: you are not in control of your own destiny, as you are failing to control a passion that you yourself would rather be rid of and which is preventing you from realizing what you recognize to be your true interests. One might say that while on the first view liberty is simply about how many doors are open to the agent, on the second view it is more about going through the right doors for the right reasons.

In a famous essay first published in 1958, Isaiah Berlin called these two concepts of liberty negative and positive respectively (Berlin 1969).[1] The reason for using these labels is that in the first case liberty seems to be a mere absence of something (i.e. of obstacles, barriers, constraints or interference from others), whereas in the second case it seems to require the presence of something (i.e. of control, self-mastery, self-determination or self-realization). In Berlin’s words, we use the negative concept of liberty in attempting to answer the question What is the area within which the subject a person or group of persons is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?, whereas we use the positive concept in attempting to answer the question What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that? (1969, pp. 12122).

It is useful to think of the difference between the two concepts in terms of the difference between factors that are external and factors that are internal to the agent. While theorists of negative freedom are primarily interested in the degree to which individuals or groups suffer interference from external bodies, theorists of positive freedom are more attentive to the internal factors affecting the degree to which individuals or groups act autonomously. Given this difference, one might be tempted to think that a political philosopher should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, a concern with positive freedom being more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political and social institutions. This, however, would be premature, for among the most hotly debated issues in political philosophy are the following: Is the positive concept of freedom a political concept? Can individuals or groups achieve positive freedom through political action? Is it possible for the state to promote the positive freedom of citizens on their behalf? And if so, is it desirable for the state to do so? The classic texts in the history of western political thought are divided over how these questions should be answered: theorists in the classical liberal tradition, like Constant, Humboldt, Spencer and Mill, are typically classed as answering no and therefore as defending a negative concept of political freedom; theorists that are critical of this tradition, like Rousseau, Hegel, Marx and T.H. Green, are typically classed as answering yes and as defending a positive concept of political freedom.

In its political form, positive freedom has often been thought of as necessarily achieved through a collectivity. Perhaps the clearest case is that of Rousseau’s theory of freedom, according to which individual freedom is achieved through participation in the process whereby one’s community exercises collective control over its own affairs in accordance with the general will. Put in the simplest terms, one might say that a democratic society is a free society because it is a self-determined society, and that a member of that society is free to the extent that he or she participates in its democratic process. But there are also individualist applications of the concept of positive freedom. For example, it is sometimes said that a government should aim actively to create the conditions necessary for individuals to be self-sufficient or to achieve self-realization. The negative concept of freedom, on the other hand, is most commonly assumed in liberal defences of the constitutional liberties typical of liberal-democratic societies, such as freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and in arguments against paternalist or moralist state intervention. It is also often invoked in defences of the right to private property, although some have contested the claim that private property necessarily enhances negative liberty (Cohen, 1991, 1995).

After Berlin, the most widely cited and best developed analyses of the negative concept of liberty include Hayek (1960), Day (1971), Oppenheim (1981), Miller (1983) and Steiner (1994). Among the most prominent contemporary analyses of the positive concept of liberty are Milne (1968), Gibbs (1976), C. Taylor (1979) and Christman (1991, 2005).

Many liberals, including Berlin, have suggested that the positive concept of liberty carries with it a danger of authoritarianism. Consider the fate of a permanent and oppressed minority. Because the members of this minority participate in a democratic process characterized by majority rule, they might be said to be free on the grounds that they are members of a society exercising self-control over its own affairs. But they are oppressed, and so are surely unfree. Moreover, it is not necessary to see a society as democratic in order to see it as self-controlled; one might instead adopt an organic conception of society, according to which the collectivity is to be thought of as a living organism, and one might believe that this organism will only act rationally, will only be in control of itself, when its various parts are brought into line with some rational plan devised by its wise governors (who, to extend the metaphor, might be thought of as the organism’s brain). In this case, even the majority might be oppressed in the name of liberty.

Such justifications of oppression in the name of liberty are no mere products of the liberal imagination, for there are notorious historical examples of their endorsement by authoritarian political leaders. Berlin, himself a liberal and writing during the cold war, was clearly moved by the way in which the apparently noble ideal of freedom as self-mastery or self-realization had been twisted and distorted by the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century most notably those of the Soviet Union so as to claim that they, rather than the liberal West, were the true champions of freedom. The slippery slope towards this paradoxical conclusion begins, according to Berlin, with the idea of a divided self. To illustrate: the smoker in our story provides a clear example of a divided self, for she is both a self that desires to get to an appointment and a self that desires to get to the tobacconists, and these two desires are in conflict. We can now enrich this story in a plausible way by adding that one of these selves the keeper of appointments is superior to the other: the self that is a keeper of appointments is thus a higher self, and the self that is a smoker is a lower self. The higher self is the rational, reflecting self, the self that is capable of moral action and of taking responsibility for what she does. This is the true self, for rational reflection and moral responsibility are the features of humans that mark them off from other animals. The lower self, on the other hand, is the self of the passions, of unreflecting desires and irrational impulses. One is free, then, when one’s higher, rational self is in control and one is not a slave to one’s passions or to one’s merely empirical self. The next step down the slippery slope consists in pointing out that some individuals are more rational than others, and can therefore know best what is in their and others’ rational interests. This allows them to say that by forcing people less rational than themselves to do the rational thing and thus to realize their true selves, they are in fact liberating them from their merely empirical desires. Occasionally, Berlin says, the defender of positive freedom will take an additional step that consists in conceiving of the self as wider than the individual and as represented by an organic social whole a tribe, a race, a church, a state, the great society of the living and the dead and the yet unborn. The true interests of the individual are to be identified with the interests of this whole, and individuals can and should be coerced into fulfilling these interests, for they would not resist coercion if they were as rational and wise as their coercers. Once I take this view, Berlin says, I am in a position to ignore the actual wishes of men or societies, to bully, oppress, torture in the name, and on behalf, of their real selves, in the secure knowledge that whatever is the true goal of man … must be identical with his freedom (Berlin 1969, pp. 13233).

Those in the negative camp try to cut off this line of reasoning at the first step, by denying that there is any necessary relation between one’s freedom and one’s desires. Since one is free to the extent that one is externally unprevented from doing things, they say, one can be free to do what one does not desire to do. If being free meant being unprevented from realizing one’s desires, then one could, again paradoxically, reduce one’s unfreedom by coming to desire fewer of the things one is unfree to do. One could become free simply by contenting oneself with one’s situation. A perfectly contented slave is perfectly free to realize all of her desires. Nevertheless, we tend to think of slavery as the opposite of freedom. More generally, freedom is not to be confused with happiness, for in logical terms there is nothing to stop a free person from being unhappy or an unfree person from being happy. The happy person might feel free, but whether they are free is another matter (Day, 1970). Negative theorists of freedom therefore tend to say not that having freedom means being unprevented from doing as one desires, but that it means being unprevented from doing whatever one might desire to do.

Some theorists of positive freedom bite the bullet and say that the contented slave is indeed free that in order to be free the individual must learn, not so much to dominate certain merely empirical desires, but to rid herself of them. She must, in other words, remove as many of her desires as possible. As Berlin puts it, if I have a wounded leg there are two methods of freeing myself from pain. One is to heal the wound. But if the cure is too difficult or uncertain, there is another method. I can get rid of the wound by cutting off my leg (1969, pp. 13536). This is the strategy of liberation adopted by ascetics, stoics and Buddhist sages. It involves a retreat into an inner citadel a soul or a purely noumenal self in which the individual is immune to any outside forces. But this state, even if it can be achieved, is not one that liberals would want to call one of freedom, for it again risks masking important forms of oppression. It is, after all, often in coming to terms with excessive external limitations in society that individuals retreat into themselves, pretending to themselves that they do not really desire the worldly goods or pleasures they have been denied. Moreover, the removal of desires may also be an effect of outside forces, such as brainwashing, which we should hardly want to call a realization of freedom.

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Indiana and Arkansas add LGBT protections to religious freedom laws

 Freedom  Comments Off on Indiana and Arkansas add LGBT protections to religious freedom laws
Apr 032015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Lawmakers in Arkansas andIndiana passed legislation Thursday that they hoped would quiet the national uproar over new religious objections laws that opponents say are designed to offer a legal defense for anti-gay discrimination.

The Arkansas House voted 76-17 to adopt a revised bill after Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked for changes in the wake of mounting criticism. Hutchinson signed it only moments after the vote, saying the new version recognizes that “we have a diverse workforce and a diverse culture.”

A parallel process played out at theIndianaCapitol as the House and Senate passed changes to a law signed last week by GOP Gov. Mike Pence, who quickly approved the revisions.

“Over the past week, this law has become a subject of great misunderstanding and controversy across our state and nation,” Pence said in a statement. “However we got here, we are where we are, and it is important that our state take action to address the concerns that have been raised and move forward.”

The new legislation marks the first time sexual orientation and gender identity have been mentioned inIndianalaw.

The Arkansas measure is similar to a bill sent to the governor earlier this week, but Hutchinson said he wanted it revised to more closely mirror a 1993 federal law.

TheIndianaamendment prohibits service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide goods, services, facilities or accommodations. It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or U.S. military service.

The measure exempts churches and affiliated schools, along with nonprofit religious organizations.

Business leaders, many of whom had opposed the law or canceled travel to the state because of it, called the amendment a good first step but said more work needs to be done. Gay-rights groups noted thatIndiana’scivil-rights law still does not include LGBT people as a protected class.

Former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, now a senior vice president at drugmaker Eli Lilly, praised the changes but said the state’s image must still be mended.

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Indiana and Arkansas add LGBT protections to religious freedom laws

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In Religious Freedom Debate, a Retreat by Key Republicans

 Freedom  Comments Off on In Religious Freedom Debate, a Retreat by Key Republicans
Apr 032015

By Perry Bacon Jr.

The debate over religious freedom laws this week illustrated the growing momentum of gay rights, with some key Republican politicians forced to adjust their policy stances and public comments as they worried about being cast as intolerant.

On Thursday night, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a revised version of the religious freedom provision which touched off a national controversy that both embarrassed some in his state and may have ended his chances of becoming president. Pence backed the new provision, which includes special language that says religious freedom should be not used as a way to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation or gender, only five days after he strongly had defended the original law and said he would be unwilling to change it.

But Pence was not the only Republican who had to reverse himself within a few days. Legislators in Arkansas revised a similar provision in their state amid protests, and they made changes that will make it harder for private individuals or businesses to cite religious freedom as a way to avoid providing services as part of same-sex weddings.

Former Florida governor and leading 2016 candidate Jeb Bush, who on Monday had praised Pence and strongly defended the law, two days later adjusted his position and suggested that Indiana should have followed the model of Utah’s religious freedom provision, which had included protections in its original version for people who are gay.

Meanwhile, another Republican, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, said he would not sign a religious freedom provision that is being considered in the Michigan state legislature.

The shifts by top Republicans irritated religious conservatives, who are very comfortable asserting the view that businesses should be allowed, based on the religious beliefs of their owners, not to take actions that could be considered as condoning gay marriage.

“We have watched a sad spectacle this week as one Republican elected leader after another retreated on the rights of people of faith to have space to express their religious beliefs and defend their conscience,” said Tim Head, executive director of Faith & Freedom Coalition, a national conservative group. “When criticized on the simple issue of the First Amendment right to exercise one’s religion, they folded like a cheap suit.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a 2016 presidential candidate, also defended those opposed to same-sex marriage.

“Here in America, we shouldn’t force those with sincerely held religious beliefs to participate in ceremonies they don’t want to. That’s the real discrimination,” Jindal said in an interview with a Des Moines radio station that his aides distributed to reporters.

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In Religious Freedom Debate, a Retreat by Key Republicans

What Indiana's Proposed 'Fix' to Religious Freedom Law Still Allows

 Freedom  Comments Off on What Indiana's Proposed 'Fix' to Religious Freedom Law Still Allows
Apr 022015

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The proposed amendment to Indianas controversial religious freedom law stops businesses and individuals from refusing service or goods to people based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other reasons — but the law could still serve as the basis for some denials of services or goods, though only when religious officials or groups are involved, experts say.

A suggested “fix” to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), if approved by the state legislature and signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also prohibits discrimination based upon race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex or U.S. military service. But legal experts say that wont hinder the original intentions of the law — which was intended as a legal defense for people or employers who felt that their religious beliefs were being infringed.

If you had a religious claim that says, ‘I dont have to pay attention to a gay rights statute,’ that claim will lose. Those laws were never going to do that, Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois told ABC News.

Once you put the carve-out there, you inoculate [the] law from a claim that was wrong all along, she said.

State legislatures in Indiana and Arkansas may have drawn the most attention by passing versions of the “religious freedom” law this week, but similar religious freedom laws are in place in 19 states across the country, and 10 others have similar bills in the works, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said RFRA claims are rarely brought to court and generally come in the form of low-profile conflicts between diverse religious practices and diverse laws and regulations.

National Conference of State Legislatures/ABC News

Infographic: How do other state laws compare to Indianas Religious Freedom Act?

There are remarkably few cases and there are even fewer wins for the religious side, but they’re extremely important to the people affected, he told ABC News.

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Supreme Court rules GPS trackers are a form of search and seizure

 Fourth Amendment  Comments Off on Supreme Court rules GPS trackers are a form of search and seizure
Apr 012015

Shane McGlaun

This week the US Supreme Court clarified a law by ruling the Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina case that had to do with clarification of the Fourth Amendment. The case was sent back to the state high court after a unanimous opinion set down by the Justices helped to clarify how the Fourth Amendment works.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. With the clarification the court set down a precedent that says if the government puts a GPS tracker on your car, you, or your belongings it counts as search and is protected by the Fourth Amendment.

After being twice convicted as a sex offender, Grady was forced to wear a GPS monitor at all times to allow authorities to monitor his location. Grady challenged the court sating that the device qualified as unreasonable search.

The highest court in North Carolina ruled the tracker wasn’t considered search. The Supreme Court has decided otherwise and sets a precedent that may prevent other convicted criminals from being forced to wear GPS trackers in the future. This case will likely have implications in the state of Wisconsin as well since that state can force repeat sex offenders to wear tracking bracelets.

SOURCE: The Atlantic

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Revisions for Indianas Controversial Religious Freedom Law – Video

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Apr 012015

Revisions for Indianas Controversial Religious Freedom Law
Gov. Pence now says the state should correct a perception problem with the law. Watch more ABC News coverage: Subscribe to WN on YouTube: …

By: ABC News

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Indiana Religious Freedom Showdown Could End in Law Change – Video

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Apr 012015

Indiana Religious Freedom Showdown Could End in Law Change
Image for the news result Indiana Religious Freedom Showdown Could End in Law Change ABC News – 22 hours ago State lawmakers might be set to fix language that some claim could lead to …

By: idiot@nighty

Indiana Religious Freedom Showdown Could End in Law Change – Video

Governor: 'Religious freedom' bill needs changes

 Freedom  Comments Off on Governor: 'Religious freedom' bill needs changes
Apr 012015

The first-term Republican governor said he wants his state “to be known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance.”

His decision comes in the wake of an uproar in Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence has faced pressure from businesses, sports associations like the NCAA and popular culture figures to backtrack on a similar religious freedom law he signed last week. In Arkansas, it’s been Wal-Mart applying the most pressure.

Hutchinson asked lawmakers to recall the law that the Arkansas House had given final approval on Tuesday or to send him follow-up legislation that makes the changes he requested.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson said, he’s considering signing an executive order that bars discrimination among the state’s workforce.

“The issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions,” Hutchinson said. “It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue.”

READ: Who is Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson?

Case in point, Hutchinson said: His son Seth signed a petition asking him to veto the bill and also gave his father permission to tell reporters he’d done so.

Hutchinson said he supports Arkansas adding a religious freedom law to its books but he wants it to directly mirror the federal version that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993.

“We wanted to have it crafted similar to what is at the federal level,” Hutchinson said. “To do that, though, changes need to be made. The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law.”

Hutchinson is the latest Republican governor to back away from religious freedom measures in the wake of Indiana’s controversy. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said earlier this week that such a law “makes no sense.”

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Who's pushing the 'religious freedom' legislation in states?

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Mar 312015

Norfolk, Va. A recentopinion pieceby Apples CEO, Tim Cook, lamented Indianas new ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ as what he characterized as a wave of legislation” which some claim is the result of the emerging power and reach of conservative “bill mills.”

Theres something very dangerous happening in states across the country. A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors, Mr. Cook wrote in The Washington Post. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate.

Cook was referring to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence andhis state’s new “religious freedom” law, which gives business owners the right todecline serving customers based on religious grounds in effect turning away LGBT customers

Some Democrats and political analysts say that the “wave” Cook refers to is not originating with voters, but rather conservative “bill mills” that finance state legislators to attend educational conferences that may provide both unified ideas and prefabricated bills to take home. Specifically, they seeThe American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) as the primary driver of conservative state laws.

But when asked whetherALEC was involved in supporting theReligious Freedom Restoration Act, ALEC spokesperson Bill Meierlingresponds: We do not work on firearms, marriage equality, immigration, any of those things people frequently say are ours.

Still, North Carolina state Rep.Graig R. Meyerof (D) Durham says that ALECis having a profound effect on how state legislators in his state are picking their targets.

While ALEC may not be directly distributing the template legislation were seeing pop up all over the country, they are primarily the network for legislative exchange that is operating as a provider of educational seminars and conferences, Mr. Meyer says in a phone interview.

One such ALEC conferencewas held in North Carolina.While nobody can say for sure where the next religious freedom law bill will pop up, its probably a safe bet to look at where their most recent national conferences were held and where the next one will be, says Meyer.

The last ALEC national conference was held in December in Washington, D.C. The next one coming up will be in San Diego, Calif., according to ALEC’s Meierling.He describes the organization as “an exchange of legislators and entrepreneurs who come together to discuss policy.

A Source Watch report on the legislative authors of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) shows many are also on theALEC Indiana membershiplist. Three of the bill’s co-authors are also ALEC Task Force committee chairs, including Indiana stateSen. Carlin J. Yoder(R) of District 12, Sen. Jean Leising (R) of District 42, andSen. Jim Buck (R) of District 21,according to Source Watch.

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Dogs not allowed on some beaches starting April 1

 Beaches  Comments Off on Dogs not allowed on some beaches starting April 1
Mar 312015

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. | Starting Wednesday, some visitors wont be allowed on some local beaches.

Thats when a ban on dogs on the beach begins in many communities. The bans, which generally remain in effect through September, are meant to improve the safety and welfare of the beachs human visitors.

Fines for taking mans best friend on the beach vary by community, but can range up to $250.

Among the towns that ban dogs from their strands during the busy warmer months are all three New Hanover County beach towns Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure beaches.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area allows leashed dogs on its beach year-round.

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. | Starting Wednesday, some visitors won’t be allowed on some local beaches.

That’s when a ban on dogs on the beach begins in many communities. The bans, which generally remain in effect through September, are meant to improve the safety and welfare of the beach’s human visitors.

Fines for taking man’s best friend on the beach vary by community, but can range up to $250.

Among the towns that ban dogs from their strands during the busy warmer months are all three New Hanover County beach towns Wrightsville, Carolina and Kure beaches.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area allows leashed dogs on its beach year-round.

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Dogs not allowed on some beaches starting April 1

Watch: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Says Religious Freedom Law 'Absolutely Not' a Mistake

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Mar 292015

Transcript for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Says Religious Freedom Law ‘Absolutely Not’ a Mistake

Governor Mike pence joins us. Good morning. Thank you for joining us. Thank you, George for the opportunity. Was it a mistake to sign this law? Absolutely not. The religious freedom restoration act was signed into federal law by bill Clinton more than 20 years ago. And it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given anytime government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American. After that, some 19 states followed it, adopted it. After last year’s hobby lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature. And I was proud to sign it into law last week. But look, I think — I understand that there’s been a tremendous amount of misinformation. Misunderstanding around this bill. I’m just determined, I appreciate the time on your program, I’m just determined to clarify this. This is about protecting the religious liberty of people of faith and families of faith across this country. That’s what it’s been for more than 20 years. And that’s what it is now as the law in Indiana, George. One of the problems people point out is your civil rights laws don’t include sexual orientation as a protected class in Indiana. And some supporters of the bill, who aed with you as you signed the bill, Eric miller wrote, it will protect those that oppose gay marriage. Christian bakers, florists, and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage. So this is a yes or no question. Is advance America right when they say a forest in Indiana can now refuse to serve a gay couple without threat of punishment? The purpose of this bill is to empower, and it has been for more than 20 years, George, this is not speculative. The purpose of this legislation, the law in all 50 states in our federal courts, and it’s the law by statute or court decisions in some 30 other states, is very simply to empowers when they believe that actions of government impinge on their constitutional first amendment freedom of religion. A lot of people across the country. Looking at obamacare, hobby lobby cases feel their religious freedom is being impinged upon. The freedom at the federal level, all the state who is visit, are about addressing that. This is not about discrimination. This is about empowering people on government overreach. Your supporters say it would. So, yes or no, if a florist in Indiana refuses to serve a gay couple at their wedding, is that legal now in Indiana? George, this is where this debate has gone, with misinformation. It’s just a question, sir, yes or no? Well, there’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and about this law and about its intention. All over the internet. People are trying to make it about one particular issue. And now you’re doing that, as well. The issue here, the religious freedom restoration act has been on the books for more than 20 years. It does not apply, George, to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved. In point of fact in more than two decades, the religious freedom restoration act has never been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws in the country. I’m just bringing up a question from one of your supporters talking about the bill right there. It said it would protect a Christian florist. Against any kind of punishment. Is that true or not? George, look. The issue here is, is tolerance a two-way street or not? I mean. There’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today, having to do with people on the left. And, but here, Indiana steps forward, to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion. For people of faith and families of faith in our state. And this avalanche of intolerance poured on our state is outrageous. You’ve been to Indiana a bunch of times. You know it. There are no kinder, more generous, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America than in the 92 counties of Indiana. Yet, because we stepped forward for the purpose of recognizing the religious liberty rights of all the people of Indiana, of every faith, we suffer under this avalanche for the last several days of condemnation and it’s completely baseless. Governor, I — I completely agree with you about the good people. I think people are getting tired of it, George, I do. Tolerance is a two-way street. So when you say tolerance is a two-way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service, or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that’s legal in the state of Indiana? That’s a simple yes or no question. George, the question here is, is if there is a government action or law that a individual believes impinges on their freedom of religion, they have the opportunity to go to court, just as the religious freedom restoration act, that bill Clinton signed, they would have the opportunity to go to the court, go to court and the court would evaluate the circumstances under the standards articulated in this act. That’s all it is. And when you see these headlines about Indiana licensed to discriminate in Indiana. And it just — I’m telling you, George, it is a red herring. I think it’s deeply troubling. To millions of Americans, and frankly, people all across the state of Indiana, who feel troubled about government overreach. This is not about disputes between individuals. It’s about government overreach. And I’m proud that Indiana stepped forward. And I’m working hard to clarify this. We’re reaching out to business leaders. I’m pleased to be on your show speaking across the country on this. We’re determined to make it clear that what Indiana has done here is strengthened the foundation and the constitutional religious rights for our people. It sounds like what you’re saying is people are able to use their religious freedom for their defense. Let’s try to get to the clarification. You’re talking about a fix. One thing people are talking about is adding sexual orientation as a protected class under the state’s civil rights laws. Will you push for that? I will not push for that. It’s not on any agenda. It’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana. It doesn’t have anything to do with this law. I mean — George. Bill Clinton signed the religious freedom restoration act in 1993. I remember that. Then state senator — I bet you do. Then state senator Barack Obama voted for it in the state senate of Illinois. The very same language. But Illinois does have the protections in their state law. This isn’t about — well — this isn’t about individual rights or preferential rights for. It says that everyone has the right to the highest level of review if they feel that the government has impinged upon their religious liberties. That gets to the second possible fix. I really believe, George, that it is — it has been breath taking to many in Indiana, me, included, the fact that Indiana joined some 30 other states and all 50 states in our federal courts by cre — by enacting the religious freedom restoration act. And yet from people who preach tolerance every day, we’ve been under an avalanche of intolerance. I’m not going to take it lying down. The CEO of Angie’s list is putting his expansion plans on hold in your state. Because of this law. Let me goat another possible fix. I think this — I really believe that is a result of — I mean, I’ve been in touch with corporate leaders, both outside the state. I’ve been in touch with mark Emmert at the ncaa. We’ve been doing our level best to correct the gross mischaracterization of this law that has been spread all over the country by many in the media. Some of the media coverage has been shameless and reckless and the online attacks against the people of our state, I’m not going to stand for it. That may be. We’ve tried to be responsible. Let me try to get to this clarification. One suggested fix would be that this chapter does not publish or eliminate a defense to a claim under any federal, state, or local lair protecting civil rights or preventing discrimination. Is that the kind of clarification you’re talking about? George, look. We’re not going to change the law. Okay. But if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is, and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that. But — we’re not going to change this law. It’s been tested in courts for more than two decades on the federal level. In some 30 states. It represents a foundational protection for individuals. I got to tell you, George, there’s a lot of people in this country concerned about government overreach into their religious liberty. I’m one of them. I stand with them. And we’ve defended them in Indiana. We’ve made sure the courts in Indiana have used the highest standards. The same standards that are in the federal courts in the religious freedom restoration act. This is about protecting the liberty of every Hoosier of every faith. Do you think it should be legal in the state of Indiana to discriminate against gays or lesbians? George. A yes or no question. Come on. Hoosiers don’t believe in discrimination. I mean, the way I was raised in a small town in southern Indiana, you’re kind, you’re caring, you’re respectful to everyone. Anybody that’s been in Indiana for five minutes knows that Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan, it’s a reality. People tell me, I went to your state, people are so nice. This is not about discrimination. This is about protecting the religious liberty of every Hoosier of every faith and we’re going to continue to work our hearts out to clarify that to the people of Indiana and the people of this great country. Yes or no, should it be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians? George, you’re following the mantra of the last week online. And you’re trying to make this issue about something else. What wi what I’m for is protecting, with the highest standards in our courts, the religious liberties of hoosiers. I signed the bill. We’re going to continue to explain it to people that don’t understand it. If possible, we’ll find a way to amplify what this bill really is in the legislative process. I stand by this law. It was an important step forward when bill Clinton signed it in 1993. It’s an important step forward to keeping the promises of our bill of rights and the first amendment and our Indiana constitution. I’m proud that Indiana’s adopt the religious freedom act. Governor pence. Thank you for your time. Let’s get a reaction from

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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Governor Pence Signs Religious Freedom Restoration Act – Video

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Mar 282015

Governor Pence Signs Religious Freedom Restoration Act
The religious freedom restoration act becomes law despite companies' threats to move their business out of the state. We talk to legal experts about what impacts the legislation could have…


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Top NSA Whistleblower Blows The Lid on Obama Spy State – Video

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Mar 272015

Top NSA Whistleblower Blows The Lid on Obama Spy State
ELON MUSK: HUMAN-DRIVEN CARS WILL BE BANNED IN THE FUTURE Help us spread the word about the liberty …


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The Fix: Indiana is the battle over religious freedom that Arizona never was

 Freedom  Comments Off on The Fix: Indiana is the battle over religious freedom that Arizona never was
Mar 272015

In 2014, Arizona’s so-called religious freedom bill never stood a chance.The bill sought to giveindividuals and businessesexemptions from laws that burdened their religious beliefs, but was criticized for being too broadly worded — with all sorts of legal loopholes and the possibility of legalizing discrimination against people because of their sexuality or gender identity. It wasopposed by a host of companies, both Arizona’sRepublican U.S. Senators, Mitt Romney, and even three of the Republican lawmakers who originally voted for it but changed their mind.When Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed the bill six days after it was passed, it seemed likethe end of the road for such legislation. It was opposed by a host of companies, both its Republican U.S. Senators, Mitt Romney, and even three of the Republican lawmakers who originally voted for it but changed their mind.

But, get ready because the battle over religious freedom isback. Brewer may have backed down but Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has takenup the fight, and Indiana is turning into the battleground over religious freedom that Arizona never was.

While Indiana has begun to feel the heat from businesses (and the NCAA, which is hosting the Final Four in Indianapolis next week), it doesn’t face two particular pressuresArizona did: (1) hosting a Super Bowl the following year and (2) a pre-existing narrative that it’s an intolerant state. Arizona already lost Super Bowl hosting duties once before, in 1993, because it didn’t recognize Martin Luther King, Jr., Day as a state holiday. And coupled with the furor over SB 1070, the controversial immigration enforcement law Brewer signed in 2010, the state was on the verge of becoming known for intolerance, not a good thing for business and tourism. Brewer said she vetoed the bill because it would have created more problems than it solved, but it didn’t hurt that the state’s economy also could have suffered.

But since the Arizona veto, religious freedomhas also had two major victories: 1) the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case giving the company the right to exercise religious beliefs when it came to contraception and 2) Utah’s religious freedom bill which passed with support from LGBT groups.

Pence mentioned the Hobby Lobby case in his statement about his state’s bill, and said that while the Court upheld the Religious Freedom Restoration Act at the nationallevel, it didn’t protect at the state and local. He positioned his bill as an extension offederal law signed by a Democrat, President Clinton.

The Utah bill shows there is a middle ground for religious and LGBT protections, but it’s not necessarily a blueprint for other states since it’s specifically tailored to the state’s largest religion, Mormonism. It exempts things like religious organization-ownedhousing (like Church-owned Brigham Young University) and Boy Scouts (the Church participates heavily in scouting). Groups like HRC and Equality Utah supported the measure, but the response from social conservatives was muted, in part because it didn’t exemptyourcakebakers and photographers.

But Utah’s bill is in line with how a majority of Americans feel about the issue. When you ask about specific religious exemptions, people are more supportive than when asked about broadly allowing businesses to refuse services to people because of their sexuality. A January Associated Press poll found 57 percent of Americans thinkwedding-related businesses should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

But when asked more generally if any businesses, not just wedding related, should be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians, a majority are opposed, according to an April Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Indiana’s bill is much morebroadly wordedthan Utah’s, and so it could be in trouble from a public opinion standpoint. But the landscape is different than it was for Brewer’s Arizona veto, which might be why, despite the controversy the Grand Canyon state experienced, Pence signed his bill and sees this asa fight he can win.

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post

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