As Democrats champion anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community and Republicans counter with worries about safeguarding religious freedom, one congressional Republican is offering a proposal on Friday that aims to achieve both goals.
The bill that Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart plans to unveil would shield LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other public services — while also carving out exemptions for religious organizations to act based on beliefs that may exclude those of different sexual orientations or gender identities. Stewart's bill counts support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but it has yet to win a backer among House Democrats who unanimously supported a more expansive LGBTQ rights measure in May.
But the uphill climb for his plan doesn't daunt Stewart, who sees the bill as a way to "bridge that gap" between preventing discrimination and allowing religion to inform individual decisions.
"I don't know many people who wake up and say 'I want to discriminate'. Most people find that offensive," Stewart told The Associated Press. "There are people who, and I'm included among them, have religious convictions that put them in a bind about how to reconcile those two principles."
The Utah lawmaker's legislation comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on cases that touch squarely on the issue of employment discrimination against LGBTQ people, who currently do not receive specific protection in federal civil rights laws. While 21 states have laws that bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Democrats in Congress and running for president are pushing for a federal statute that would provide broader protections.
But that more sweeping bill's chances of passage are low unless Democrats take back full control of Congress as well as the White House, given President Donald Trump's opposition and Republican critics who warn of a risk to religious freedom. That prospect has informed Stewart and outside groups' work on a proposal to enshrine rights for the LGBTQ community while also preserving the right for religious groups to act in accordance with their faiths.
Among other faith-based exemptions to anti-discrimination protections in the bill is an allowance for religious groups such as churches and schools to employ those who align with their internal guidelines, according to a summary provided in advance of its release. The bill also would prohibit religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage from having their tax-exempt status revoked.
"We have taken back the religious liberty principle from extremists who I think do want to do harm to LGBTQ people and minority rights," said Tyler Deaton, a senior adviser to the American Unity Fund, a nonprofit supporting Stewart's bill that seeks to build conservative support for LGBTQ rights. Deaton added that some religious conservative groups who were consulted on the bill ultimately chose not to endorse it.
Right-hander James Hoyt has a salary of $608,500 in the major leagues as part of his contract with the Cleveland Indians and $156,000 while in the minors.
Hoyt agreed to the deal Wednesday, two days after he was removed from the 40-man roster when Cleveland failed to offer a 2020 contract by the tender deadline.
The 33-year-old had a 2.16 ERA in eight September appearances with the Indians, striking out 10 and walking two in 8 1/3 innings. He was 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 40 games at Triple-A Columbus, striking out 48 in 42 innings.
Hoyt had 65 appearances for Houston in 2016-17, then pitched in one game for Houston in 2018.
U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) Thursday announced a reward of 5 million U.S. dollars for the capture of a Russian hacker who had allegedly stolen 70 million dollars from U.S. bank accounts.
The hacker, a 32-year-old Russian national named Maksim Yakubets, "allegedly has engaged in a decade-long cyber crime spree that deployed two of the most damaging pieces of financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide," U.S. assistant attorney general Brian Benczkowski said in a press briefing.
Yakubets and his co-conspirators are alleged to have victimized 21 specific municipalities, banks, companies, and non-profit organizations in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, attempting to steal an estimated 220 million dollars, and succeeding in making away with 70 million dollars, according to a statement by the DoJ.
The reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Yakubets "represents the largest such reward offer for a cyber criminal to date," said the statement.
The DoJ also announced charges against a second Russian national, Igor Turashev, for distributing a "Bugat" malware that is designed to steal confidential personal and financial information.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday endorsed former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's presidential bid.
"I'm not endorsing Joe because I've known him for so long, but because I know him so well," Kerry tweeted. "He'll be ready on day one to put back together the country and the world that (U.S. President) Donald Trump has broken apart."
As the 2004 Democratic nominee for the White House and a five-term senator representing Massachusetts, Kerry will join Biden for campaign stops in coming days, according to the former vice president's team.
Biden, 77, served as vice president from 2009 to 2017 to then President Barack Obama. Kerry was the Obama administration's secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.
During a town hall event in Iowa on Thursday, Biden engaged in a testy exchange with a voter questioning his age and his son's dealings in Ukraine.
Biden told the voter "No one has said my son has done anything wrong and I did not on any occasion."
He also responded by challenging the voter to a pushup match, a running competition and an IQ test.
Biden formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. presidency in April and has campaigned as a moderate and on his political experiences.
According to the latest RealClearPolitics national Democratic primary polling average, Biden is leading a 15-member field at 27.8 percent, followed by progressive Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Economists of South Africa on Thursday welcomed the government's decision to place debt-ridden South African Airways (SAA) under business rescue.
The state-owned airline was placed under business rescue following a financial crippling seven-day strike which forced SAA to cancel local and international flights last month.
The last time SAA made profits was in 2011, and over the years the airline relied on billions of government's bailouts to run its business.
Jannie Rossouw, a professor of economics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the business rescue decision must be welcomed and it will shield the company against liquidation.
"I'm very happy about SAA. This is the best decision the government has taken about SAA ... it has been a drain on taxpayers for many years," he told Xinhua.
Dawie Roodt, an economist at the financial services company Efficient Group, told Xinhua that the business decision was great for the ailing airline.
Even though the decision will lead to thousands of workers being retrenched and certain routes and some departments being shut down, it is still "an excellent decision," Roodt added.
SAA failed to release its financial statements or results for the last two years. SAA board of directors said placing the company under business rescue was to find a solution "to our company's well-documented financial challenges."
While the decision may be challenging for employees and other stakeholders, SAA will soon release details about the appointment of business practitioners set to be part of the process.