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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at 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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VoteEasy and PCT Results Released in New York

2014 October 27

Today, Vote Smart released the results of the National Political Courage Test to VoteEasy at VoteSmart.org, giving New York voters an invaluable resource for identifying their best political match November 4th. Eleven of the congressional, state legislative and gubernatorial candidates passed the 2014 Political Courage Test. 

Elections Aren't Just for Even Numbered Years

2013 November 06

It's Election Day! Well, for many of you it is.

A Vote Smart Guide to the "Gang of Eight"

2013 February 28

Immigration: it's an issue that's been on the minds of a lot of prominent people involved in politics lately.

Candidates Flunk 20-Year Study of Political Courage

2012 October 29

A  20-year study of over 15,000 congressional candidates and their willingness to answer questions on the major issues

May Common Ground E-Newsletter

2012 May 17

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April Common Ground E-Newsletter

2012 April 24

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New York Special Election Candidates Lack Courage

2011 September 09 - Carly Griffin

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