Palmetto Sunrise: Religious freedom law part of conservative campaign, Clyburn says

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn , D-S.C., spoke with South Carolina reporters Thursday on recent political developments in the nation.

Does the GOP want to run back the clock on civil rights?

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who routinely meets with the state’s media during congressional recesses, said he believes there is a nationally run campaign underway by conservative groups to roll back the clock on civil rights.

Included in that, he said, are religious freedom laws like those in Indiana and Arkansas condemned as potentially allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians; voter ID requirements; and stand-your-ground laws that have been used to defend shootings on unarmed blacks.

“This stuff goes to the basic foundation of what this country has been built upon,” Rep. Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s only black Democrat in Congress said. “And I’m fearful that if we are not careful, we are going to be experiencing some troubling times.”

Two statewide Democrats also introduced bills this week seeking to quell fears that South Carolina’s religious freedom or other laws could be used to discriminate against the LGBT community.

State Sen. Brad Hutto and House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford each say they would propose changing state law to explicitly protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against discrimination.

Hutto’s measure would protect the LGBT community from discrimination in employment, housing, hotels and restaurants, adding language to existing state law in those areas. Rutherford’s proposal would prohibit businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

“It would be better to have clearer protection in the non-discrimination laws we have,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a legislative fix to its religious freedom law to ensure it is not used to discriminate. Pence said in a statement, according to the Indianapolis Star: “There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough, but as governor I must always put the interest of our state first and ask myself every day, ‘What is best for Indiana?’ I believe resolving this controversy and making clear that every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana.”

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