Thursday, 7 April 2016

Mississippi gov. signs law allowing service denial to gays

ACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's governor has signed a law that lets religious groups and private businesses refuse service to gay couples based on religious beliefs.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, despite opposition from gay-rights groups and some businesses who say it allows discrimination. Some conservative and religious groups supported the bill. Opponents of the law, however, see it as a sword against LGBT people, not a shield for Christian conservatives.

The measure's stated goal is to protect those who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, that sexual relations should only take place inside such marriages, and that male and female genders are unchangeable.

The measure allows churches, religious charities and privately held businesses to decline services to people whose lifestyles violate their religious beliefs. Individual government employees may also opt out, although the measure says governments must still provide services.

Governor vetoes bill permitting use of Bible in schooling

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed legislation that would have expressly permitted the use of the Bible in public school instruction, calling the measure unconstitutional.

In the veto's accompanying letter Otter said he respects the Bible, but the measure would result in costly litigation for Idaho's public schools. He said the measure directly contradicts Idaho's Constitution.

The bill stated the Bible could be used for reference purposes in subjects like literature, history, music and world geography in public schools, but not scientific subjects. Schools are already allowed to reference the Bible and other religious texts, but this legislation specifically mentioned the Bible.

The Legislature passed the measure in the final week of this year's session after ignoring a warning from the attorney general's office that questioned its legality.

No decision on death penalty in Charleston church shootings

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Prosecutors handling the federal case against the man charged in the shooting deaths of nine black parishioners at a Charleston, South Carolina, church say the decision on whether to pursue the death penalty is in its final stages.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said Tuesday that the decision is now pending before U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who will make the determination.

Richardson and attorneys for Dylann Roof were in court to discuss updates to the case. Roof was not present, and no date for his federal trial has been set.

Roof faces nine counts of murder in state court for the killings at Emanuel AME Church. He is charged with hate crimes and other counts in federal court. The state is seeking the death penalty in Roof's state trial, which is set for July.