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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

The Balancing Act of Determining Discrimination

2016 May 17

The balancing act of determining discrimination

Multiple “religious freedom” bills are currently capturing the attention of state legislatures across the country. “Religious freedom” bills are proposed legislation that call for religious organizations, businesses, and individuals to be protected from penalties for declining to provide services to individuals whose lifestyle conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.  After the Supreme Court decision in 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage, these bills are particularly pertinent for those who, due to their religious beliefs, feel that they cannot provide their services to LGBTQ events concerning marriage. As a result, state legislatures and their constituents are facing the question of how they should balance the rights of people of faith and those of LGBTQ people.

The pressure to strike this balance has not been isolated to this year alone. In 2015, after passing SB 101, a bill that prohibited the state from “burdening a person’s exercise of religion,” the Indiana legislature clarified a month later with SB 50 that SB 101 does not authorize a “provider” to refuse an individual on the basis of the individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This event foreshadowed the legislative competition that was to come after the 2015 same-sex marriage decision, with churches and LGBTQ groups vying for the protection of those they represent.

Introduced in January 2016, Georgia HB 757 proposed to authorize a religious official or organization to decline to perform a ceremony or provide a service that went against their religious beliefs. The bill passed both the House ...

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May Common Ground E-Newsletter

2016 May 06

May Common Ground E-Newsletter: See what is going on at Vote Smart!

Political Research Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

2016 April 27

 Political news that you may have missed this spring

The Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay

2016 April 21

 For years, the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, located in Cuba, has been used by the United States government to house potential threats to national security. Throughout its existence, it has been met with numerous accusations, scandals, and an ongoing debate over alleged human rights violations. Recently, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to effectively shut down the facility.

Polarization of the Supreme Court Vacancy

2016 April 13

 On February 13, 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. According to the United State Constitution, the president-elect is responsible for nominating the replacement justice, and the Senate is then responsible for confirming or denying that nomination; however, some politicians are calling for President Barack Obama to abstain from the nomination, leaving 8 justices to make judicial decisions for almost a year.

Can Someone Please Tell Me What is Happening?

2016 March 31 - Richard Kimball

 Our political culture is shifting course on a galactic scale right in front of our slackened jaws. Its destination unknown?

Presidential Foreign Policies

2016 March 30

 ..foreign policy has become one of the main focuses of the election cycle. Each presidential candidate has their own take on foreign policy and America's role in the Middle East right now.

Bathroom bills bearing down on states across America

2016 March 11

 Emerging onto the floor of numerous state legislatures across the United States of America is a new and divisive kind of legislation: “bathroom bills.” Bathroom bills are proposed legislation that address whether individuals may use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender they identify with or with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

​A Monumental Development, Saving Time Through Automation

2016 February 10 - Jamieson Bates

 We thought automating the entry of key data was vital and we chose to start with the entry of scorecards (ratings) published by special interest groups of all kinds. I'm here to report that we have succeeded in this effort and are continuing this initiative even further. More to come on what is next, but I wanted to describe here what I am talking about.

The Facts Are Lost in the Noise: New Tool Coming

2016 February 08 - Jamieson Bates

 

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It seems that the facts are becoming lost in the noise created by the politicians of today. It is disheartening to know this, and to see it. In 2014, we saw many battles where politicians chose to attack one another, rather than debate and inform. That effect has been amplified greatly thus far in the 2016 Presidential race that has been going on for over six months now. There are many new and old efforts that are attempting to combat this trend and bring politics back to reality. Let me tell you what we are trying to do about it

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