WBEZ | mike pence http://www.wbez.org/tags/mike-pence Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Syrian Family Who Were Supposed to Resettle in Indiana Now Call Connecticut Home http://www.wbez.org/news/syrian-family-who-were-supposed-resettle-indiana-now-call-connecticut-home-113929 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RTXVBTO.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/RTXVBTO.jpg?itok=k4US2pVA" style="border: 0px; vertical-align: bottom; max-width: 100%; height: 349px; color: rgb(51, 51, 60); font-family: 'Source Sans Pro', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, 'Nimbus Sans L', sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 27px; width: 620px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" title="Indiana governor Mike Pence. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><p>Governors from more than two dozen states&nbsp;have made similar statements, opposing resettlement in their states. And on Thursday, the US House of Representatives voted, by a veto-proof margin, to bar Syrian refugee resettlement until the government can make certain stringent certifications&nbsp;that refugees aren&#39;t terrorists. The measure must still be considered by the Senate, where its prospects seem more mixed.&nbsp;Their objections come after last week&rsquo;s deadly attacks in Paris.</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="550" scrolling="no" src="https://w.graphiq.com/w/4PSrucsgVal?data-uid=740930cdef&amp;data-campaign=da4730a653" style="width: 847.017px;" width="600"></iframe></div><p>Carleen Miller, executive director of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.exodusrefugee.org/index.html" target="_blank">Exodus Refugee Immigration</a>, the organization that handled the family&rsquo;s case says that they decided to send the family to Connecticut after the issue became so politicized.</p><p>&ldquo;It was the first Syrian case to come to the US after the governor had started making these statements and we weren&rsquo;t sure what would happen to this family,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Miller adds that there was already a lot of media interest and her agency felt that the family&rsquo;s transition to the US would be much smoother if they were sent to Connecticut.</p><p>&ldquo;We were concerned that this family needed to get the services they needed and not be caught up as a political football in this situation,&rdquo; she explains.</p><p>The couple fled war-torn Syria with their young child in 2011. They registered with the United Nations and were granted refugee status. They started their application to be resettled in the US in 2012. It took three years for them to go through the screening and vetting process.</p><p>Finally, a few weeks ago Miller&rsquo;s agency received information about their case and accepted their application.</p><p>Miller says she is &ldquo;really disheartened&rdquo; by what has happened.</p><p>&ldquo;This is very painful for us in the resettlement community,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Miller argues that refugees are the most screened people that arrive in the US, much more than tourists, for example.</p><p>She feels like the governors have reacted in a knee-jerk fashion.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that he [Pence] is operating on misinformation,&rdquo; she says, adding that he is not aware of the &ldquo;very thorough process that we have in place in the resettlement program for all refugees coming into the country.&rdquo;</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="545" scrolling="no" src="https://w.graphiq.com/w/981FzMvTK3X?data-uid=740930cdef&amp;data-campaign=da4730a653" style="width: 847.017px;" width="600"></iframe></div><p>The case of Iraqi refugees Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi doesn&rsquo;t help.</p><p>Alwan&nbsp;and Hammadi were resettled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, back in 2009. In 2011 they were arrested in the US for supporting extremism.</p><p>&ldquo;They basically plotted to send weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq to support the insurgency there,&rdquo; says journalist Lisa Autry with WKU public radio in Kentucky,&nbsp;who reported the story at the time.</p><p>The weapons included sniper rifles and stinger missles. But the money and the arms never made it to Iraq. The scheme was foiled by an FBI informant.</p><p>&ldquo;[Hammadi and Alwan] had both been involved in insurgent attacks in Iraq before coming to Bowling Green in 2009 as refugees. Alwan&rsquo;s fingerprints were found on an&nbsp;IED&nbsp;in Iraq back in 2005, which helped seal the case.&rdquo;</p><p>In the wake of the Kentucky case, the US halted the refugee process for six months, Autry adds, and the local process of vetting refugees was re-evaluated she says. But this case shook up the small community of Bowling Green.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s a community that has welcomed many different refugees from Bosnia, Burma and Somalia. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It was hard to believe that anyone like that could be among us. It&rsquo;s very much a small, very much Mayberry-type community.&rdquo;</p><p>Following the Paris Attacks, members of the refugee community in Bowling Green have shared with Autry their own fears of the hurt that followed the discovery of Hammadi Alwan.</p><p>&ldquo;They hate what the Paris terrorist attacks have done as far as creating that national/international discussion about bringing in refugees &mdash; who have the best intentions, have the intentions of seeking just a safe haven and starting a new life for them and their families,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Bowling Green will become home to about 400 new refugees this year &mdash; 100 of whom will be resettled from Iraq. None currently are set to come from Syria.</p><p>Back&nbsp;in Indianapolis, residents have reacted to this by flooding Miller&rsquo;s agency with email and phone calls to show their support for Syrian refugees. Some have offered lodging for them.</p><p>Miller says she is talking with the federal government to find out whether the state can legally stop the services that they give to refugee families. Legal experts have suggested that state officials can&#39;t stop refugee resettlement, but they can certainly make it more difficult. Once that is resolved, she says she hopes to continue resettling families as usual.</p><p>The Syrian family who was hoping to go to Indiana is now in Connecticut. Miller says they have been received warmly by both Connecticut and Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;Indiana people have sent an Edible Arrangement for them,&rdquo; she says.&nbsp;&ldquo;They are sending their thoughts to that family.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div><iframe frameborder="0" height="575" scrolling="no" src="https://w.graphiq.com/w/bSmsh29q1KZ?data-uid=740930cdef&amp;data-campaign=da4730a653" style="width: 847.017px;" width="640"></iframe></div><div>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-19/syrian-family-who-were-supposed-resettle-indiana-now-call-connecticut-home" target="_blank"><em>via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></div></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/syrian-family-who-were-supposed-resettle-indiana-now-call-connecticut-home-113929 Syrian Activist Feels Like US is Punishing Him for Surviving Terrorism http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-punishing-him-surviving-terrorism-113838 <p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/411944_10150892112515740_1097309100_o_0.jpg?itok=0twoJ8hP" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Mohamad Al Bardan, right, at a vigil for Syrian refugees at Faneuil Hall in Boston. (Courtesy of Mohamad Al Bardan)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p dir="ltr">Boston-based Syrian activist Mohamad Al Bardan could easily tell his own story as a kind of &ldquo;profile in courage.&rdquo; It would be about a young student protester who saw his peers gunned down, but didn&rsquo;t stop demonstrating.</p></div><p dir="ltr">He could describe how, even after he left the country and got a masters degree and a high-level tech job in the US, he kept pushing for human rights in Syria and for the fair treatment of Syrian refugees across the world.</p><p dir="ltr">But the way 28-year-old Bardan tells it, his story isn&rsquo;t so simple. There are parts of it he still struggles with: When you live and watch others die, or when you leave while your friends stay, a bit of &ldquo;survivor&#39;s guilt&rdquo; is inevitable.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6La-K9ydOBA?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">And he&rsquo;ll tell you courage is relative. Yes, he did attend demonstrations as Bashar al-Assad&rsquo;s crackdown began in 2011, but once he saw police open fire on a protest, he made sure not to stand in the front row the next time. Twice, he drove to protests but couldn&rsquo;t get out his car. He remembers shaking from fear. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can say that you are brave enough, like you don&rsquo;t care about losing your life at certain times but that&rsquo;s not the truth when it comes to reality,&quot; Bardan &nbsp;says. &quot;Everyone wants to stay alive. I remember there was a huge amount of fear.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">He may have gone through a lot, but Bardan seems himself as lucky. He was accepted to Northeastern University for grad school and left Syria just as the government started&nbsp;cracking down on demonstrations, but before the civil war began in earnest and ISIS became the brutal force it is today. He often wonders what would have happened had he stayed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Maybe I was one of the refugees here and there, or maybe I was one of the victims. I feel like I&rsquo;m privileged,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m lucky enough to be here. I got my visa before things had started.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/among-lucky-few-syrian-family-rebuilds-americas-heartland-113439" target="_blank"><strong>RELATED: Among the lucky few: Syrian family rebuilds in &#39;America&#39;s Heartland&#39;</strong></a></p><div>For the past 4.5 years, he has been an activist in the Boston area, working with the Syrian Nonviolence Movement and other groups, first on campus at Northeastern and then throughout the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the wake of the Paris attacks, he has been disappointed in what he sees as the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/northwest-indiana%E2%80%99s-syrian-refugee-resettlement-program-limbo-113837" target="_blank">reactionary response from some US politicians</a>, including Massachusetts&nbsp;Gov. Charlie Baker, who said he <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/after-paris-attacks-mounting-us-opposition-resettling-syrian-migrants-113829" target="_blank">opposes letting Syrian refugees into the state.</a></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Politicians shouldn&rsquo;t be reactionaries. What happened in Paris is a sad, heartbreaking event. But fighting terrorism is totally a different thing. It should be systematic, not reactionary,&rdquo; he explains.</p><div><div data-entity-id="85668" data-entity-title="Harvard SafeMode Event" data-entity-type="node"><aside data-tracking-code="harvard-safemode-event-"><div>He understands security concerns and&nbsp;supports more security background checks, but sees the debate on whether to accept refugees as &ldquo;un-American.&rdquo;</div></aside></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a one-dimensional problem. For sure, our duty here is to protect this country, to protect the national security of it, and it is the first priority for all of us. But at the same time, we have other responsibilities, we can&rsquo;t turn our backs to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. ...&nbsp;I totally understand all the concerns, but as a Syrian, I want to tell people, we are humans at the end, and we need to feel that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_435813818376.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 361px; width: 540px;" title="In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015 file photo, a Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father's arms while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)" /></p><p dir="ltr">His parents and siblings are still in Syria, and he fears that after the attacks in Paris, they won&rsquo;t be able to get visas to visit him.&nbsp;It may be too risky for him to go back home. So he doesn&rsquo;t know when he will see his family again.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are the ones who suffered from what happened during the last 4.5 years. My parents just suffered from losing many beloved ones around the country, and we are seeing that we are being punished one more time right now.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He hopes that the pain the Paris attacks caused will, in the long term, lead to a deeper level of empathy and understanding.</p><div><em>A forum on the Syrian refugee crisis with PRI&#39;s The World host Marco Werman at the Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/935389593206588/" target="_blank">RSVP ON FACEBOOK</a></em></div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-politicians-want-punish-him-surviving-terrorism-and" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></div><p dir="ltr">&quot;Turning our backs on refugees is not the right reaction to the Paris attack. We need to open our hearts for them and feel that they have the same pain.&quot;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-punishing-him-surviving-terrorism-113838 Indiana law: Sorting fact from fiction from politics http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/indiana-law-sorting-fact-fiction-politics-111800 <p><p>The culture wars are always percolating beneath the surface in presidential politics &ndash; until something or someone pushes it to the surface.</p><p>That something early in this cycle is the Indiana &quot;Religious Freedom Restoration Act,&quot; which Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who is considering a run for president in 2016, signed into law last week. It has caused a firestorm of criticism from those who say the law could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians, including businesses like<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/pro-discrimination-religious-freedom-laws-are-dangerous-to-america/2015/03/29/bdb4ce9e-d66d-11e4-ba28-f2a685dc7f89_story.html">Apple</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/28/news/companies/angies-list-indiana-gay-discrimination/">Angie&#39;s List</a>, the&nbsp;<a href="http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/12587768/ncaa-president-mark-emmert-keeping-close-eye-indiana-legislators-new-law-allow-businesses-discriminate-gays-lesbians">NCAA</a>, which is hosting the men&#39;s college basketball Final Four in Indianapolis, and even other states like Connecticut, which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-malloy-issues-executive-order-banning-statepaid-travel-to-indiana-20150330-story.html'">banned state-paid travel</a>&nbsp;to Indiana.</p><p>Pence seemed surprised by the backlash and has had some difficulty explaining his position. Other potential 2016 candidates have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/03/31/396570683/what-the-2016-hopefuls-are-saying-about-indianas-religious-freedom-law" target="_blank">leapt to his defense</a>&nbsp;and, some, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, went further than the Indiana governor.</p><p>Supporters say Indiana&#39;s law is similar the federal &quot;Religious Freedom Restoration Act&quot; passed in 1993.</p><p>As often is the case in controversies the facts have become muddled and conflated. So what are the facts? How are the two laws different? And how have politics on both sides shaped the response?</p><p><strong>Seeking &#39;Clarification&#39; and a &#39;Fix,&#39; As The Contenders Weigh In</strong></p><p>On Tuesday, Pence&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/03/31/full-text-of-indiana-gov-mike-pences-news-conference-on-rfra/">said</a>&nbsp;there has &quot;been misunderstanding and confusion and mischaracterization of this law.&quot; But he said he is seeking &quot;clarification&quot; and a &quot;fix&quot; to the law with legislation &quot;that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.&quot;</p><p>On Monday, though, the law became part of the presidential campaign with Republican presidential candidates weighing in after a Sunday show performance from Pence that raised more questions. Pence sidestepped half a dozen specific questions about whether the law could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.</p><p>Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush contended that facts had not been established, and once they are, &quot;people aren&#39;t going to see this as discriminatory at all.&quot;</p><p>Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker backed the law and said through a spokesperson that it was about &quot;the right for Americans to exercise their religion and act on their conscience.&quot;</p><p>Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the law &quot;is giving voice to millions of courageous conservatives.&quot;</p><p>Rubio, though, did something the other candidates did not. He more directly addressed the charge that businesses could discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. Gay rights advocates, for example, say if a gay or lesbian couple wanted a flower arrangement or cake for a reception, a florist or caterer could lawfully choose not to fill the order, if they have a religious objection.</p><p>Rubio said he thinks businesses should have that right.</p><p>&quot;The issue we&#39;re talking about here is should someone who provides a professional service be punished by the law because they refused to provide that professional service to a ceremony that they believe is in violation of their faith?&quot; he said on Fox News Monday. &quot;I think people have a right to live out their religious faith in their own lives.&quot;</p><p>Most conservatives, including Pence, have mostly not addressed that charge head on. Instead, they say, the law is unfairly maligned. After all, other states have similar laws and even Democrat Bill Clinton signed a federal &quot;Religious Freedom Restoration Act&quot; into law as president.</p><p>Hillary Clinton, for the record, tweeted: &quot;Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn&#39;t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love.&quot;</p><p>The White House on Tuesday blasted Pence and others, who &quot;falsely suggest&quot; the two laws &mdash; Indiana&#39;s and the federal one &mdash; are the same.</p><p>&quot;That is not true,&quot; White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at the White House daily briefing. He cited the spirit of the law as well as the text. He said the 1993 law &quot;was an effort to protect the religious liberty of religious minorities based on actions that could be taken by the federal government.&quot;</p><p>On the other hand, &quot;The Indiana law is much broader,&quot; Earnest continued. &quot;It doesn&#39;t just apply to individuals or religious minorities. It applies to, and I&#39;m quoting here, &#39;a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint stock company, or an unincorporated association.&#39; So this obviously is a significant expansion of the law in terms of the way that it would apply. ... [T]his is a much more open-ended piece of legislation that could reasonably be used to try to justify discriminating against somebody because of who they love.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Background</strong></p><p>First, let&#39;s start with how and why the 1993 law came to be. The federal law&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1993/11/17/us/clinton-signs-law-protecting-religious-practices.html">stemmed from</a>&nbsp;an Oregon Native American man, who lost his job in 1990 after testing positive for drugs. He had used peyote as part of a religious ritual. The &quot;fix&quot; to that problem became the federal RFRA, introduced by soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, then a House member from New York. A companion bill passed the Senate and was introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.</p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/27/19-states-that-have-religious-freedom-laws-like-indianas-that-no-one-is-boycotting/">Nineteen states</a>, in addition to Indiana, have since enacted their own RFRAs, but as<em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/27/19-states-that-have-religious-freedom-laws-like-indianas-that-no-one-is-boycotting/">The Atlantic</a>&nbsp;</em>notes, just South Carolina and Texas have similar variations to Indiana&#39;s and neither seems to go quite as far.</p><p><strong>Indiana vs. Federal Law &mdash; What Do They Say?</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-103hr1308enr/pdf/BILLS-103hr1308enr.pdf">The Federal RFRA</a>&nbsp;states that &quot;Government shall not substantially burden a person&#39;s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability....&quot;</p><p><a href="https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/101#document-92bab197">The Indiana law</a>&nbsp;also states, &quot;a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person&#39;s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.&quot;</p><p>That is, the federal law states, except when it &quot;is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.&quot;</p><p>Indiana also states the exception as &quot;(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.&quot;</p><p>But that&#39;s where the similarities end.</p><p>The federal law does not go so far as to define a &quot;person.&quot; Indiana&#39;s law does. And a &quot;person,&quot; by their standard is not what you might think.</p><p>Section 7 of the Indiana code includes people, churches and corporations in that definition:</p><div class="bucketwrap statichtml" id="res396674585"><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-210824">&nbsp;</div><script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1699074-sb0101-05-enrs/annotations/210824.js'); </script></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>As related to whether, why or who can sue, the federal law says:</p><div class="bucketwrap statichtml" id="res396674719"><div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-210827">&nbsp;</div><script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1699105-bills-103hr1308enr/annotations/210827.js'); </script></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Indiana law goes further. In Section 9, it states that &quot;a person,&quot; in this case meaning an individual, church, limited liability company, etc., &quot;whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.&quot;</p><p>So, in other words, while the federal law states that a person can sue the&nbsp;<em>government</em>for a grievance, Indiana makes a point of stating that it doesn&#39;t matter if government is involved.</p><p>Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416160/indiana-protecting-discrimination-josh-blackman">notes in<em>National Review</em></a>&nbsp;that while some read the federal provision as pertaining only to government, it has actually split federal courts. &quot;Private parties,&quot; he points out, &quot;had brought suits against corporations.&quot;</p><p>For example: &quot;[T]he D.C. Circuit held that the Catholic University of America could raise RFRA as a defense against a sex-discrimination claim brought by a nun and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alike.</p><p>That said, the Indiana law explicitly wipes away any ambiguity.</p><p><strong>The Politics</strong></p><p>Support for gay rights has increased dramatically over the past decade. Since former President George W. Bush proposed a ban on same-sex marriage during his 2004 presidential reelection campaign, support for same-sex marriage has reversed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gallupsamesexmarriage14_custom-d446a9946a90cc2b8b0eb5d2e5b886e25823a763-s800-c85.png" style="height: 350px; width: 620px;" title="Gallup's May 2014 survey found support for same-sex marriage at a new high: 55 percent. Gallup" /></div><p>In 2004, a majority of the country &mdash; 55 percent &mdash; was against it, while 42 percent was in favor, according to Gallup. Now, it&#39;s exactly the opposite, with 55 percent saying they&#39;re in favor of same-sex marriage and 42 percent saying they&#39;re against it.</p><p>What&#39;s more, in 2004, 54 percent said gay or lesbian relations were &quot;morally wrong.&quot; In 2014, 58 percent said it was &quot;morally acceptable,&quot; while just 38 percent said it was wrong. That is a huge cultural and political shift in a relatively short time.</p><p>It&#39;s something Republican pollster Whit Ayres likens to approval of interracial marriage in the 1970s to 1990s. In his book,&nbsp;<em>2016 and Beyond: How Republicans can elect a President in the New America</em>, he points out, citing Gallup numbers, that in 1972, some 60 percent of Americans disapproved of interracial marriage. Twenty-five years later, 64 percent approved with the lines crossing when the country split about evenly in 1983.</p><p>&quot;It looks similar to gay marriage,&quot; Ayres told reporters at breakfast meeting sponsored by the&nbsp;<em>Christian Science Monitor</em>. &quot;The values of young people, I believe, this is where we are headed as a country.&quot; He added, &quot;We are headed to where a political candidate, who is perceived as anti-gay will never connect with people under 30 years old.&quot;</p><p>But going inside the numbers helps explain why both sides are singing very different tunes on the Indiana law. For example, Gallup found that 3 in 4 Democrats are in favor of same-sex marriage (as were almost 60 percent of independents), but the opposite was true for Republicans with 72 percent opposed, as of 2013.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gallupssm2_custom-47c4801c026db15f4b3df2883cd5da62b26c7c78-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 620px;" title="Gallup survey showing support of same-sex marriage by party in 2013. Gallup/2016 And Beyond" /></div><p>That makes it difficult to get through a Republican primary being too strongly in favor of gay rights with a significant portion of the base considering themselves &quot;social values&quot; religious voters.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s a challenge,&quot; said Ayres, who is advising Rubio.</p><p>He points out that younger Republicans under 30 are in favor of same-sex marriage. A Pew poll in 2014, in fact, found 61 percent of young Republicans in favor.</p><p>So, while times are changing with Republicans on gay rights, they are doing so more slowly than the more rapid change taking place in the country at large.</p><p>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2015/04/01/395613897/sorting-fact-from-fiction-from-politics-on-the-indiana-law"><em>NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics</em></a></p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/indiana-law-sorting-fact-fiction-politics-111800 Indiana pastor doesn’t want changes to 'religious freedom' law http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/indiana-pastor-doesn%E2%80%99t-want-changes-religious-freedom-law-111798 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Pence Reax_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">As Indiana Gov. Mike Pence asks lawmakers to send him a clarification of the state&#39;s new religious-freedom law later this week, at least one Northwest Indiana pastor is speaking out against the prospect of changes.</p><p dir="ltr">On Tuesday, Pence defended the Indiana law as a vehicle to protect religious liberty but said he has been meeting with lawmakers &quot;around the clock&quot; to address concerns that it would allow businesses to deny services to gay customers.</p><p>The governor said he does not believe &quot;for a minute&quot; that lawmakers intended &quot;to create a license to discriminate.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It certainly wasn&#39;t my intent,&quot; said Pence, who <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/indiana-gov-pence-signs-religious-objections-bill-111772">signed the law last week</a>.</p><p>But, he said, he &quot;can appreciate that that&#39;s become the perception, not just here in Indiana but all across the country. We need to confront that.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;It would make the bill null and void,&rdquo; Rev. Ron Johnson, senior pastor of Living Stones Church in Crown Point, Indiana, told WBEZ. &ldquo;Because it&rsquo;s not going to protect religious liberty.&rdquo;</p><p>The Indiana law prohibits any laws that &quot;substantially burden&quot; a person&#39;s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of &quot;person&quot; includes religious institutions, businesses and associations.</p><p>Although the legal language does not specifically mention gays and lesbians, critics say the law is designed to shield businesses and individuals who do not want to serve gays and lesbians, such as florists or caterers who might be hired for a same-sex wedding.</p><p>Johnson says from his understanding, the law could allow something more troubling.</p><p>&ldquo;Nobody is saying that if you come into get a hamburger you say, &lsquo;Hey, are you a homosexual? I&rsquo;m not going to serve you a hamburger.&rsquo; That is not even the issue,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;The issue has been specifically related to forcing someone to celebrate a same-sex wedding ceremony that they believe violates their religious beliefs. That&rsquo;s where the rub has come.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson feels the religious community is being forced to accept something they do not believe in.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re talking about the Left and the gay lobby forcing us not to tolerate their behavior but to celebrate their behavior and that&rsquo;s fundamentally wrong,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;Whatever group is pushing for their right to express themselves sexually however they want to do it, if you don&rsquo;t jump on the bandwagon and support that then you&rsquo;re a bigot, or you&rsquo;re a hater.&quot;</p><p>Johnson added that the national backlash Indiana has endured following Pence&rsquo;s signing of SB 101 into law has been shameful.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a witch hunt if I ever saw one. Frankly, I think it&rsquo;s an insult to Hoosiers. It&rsquo;s an insult to our great governor who is an incredibly good man,&rdquo; Johnson said.</p><p>The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act arose from a case related to the use of peyote in a Native American ritual.</p><p>But in 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal law did not apply to the states. So states began enacting their own laws. Twenty now have them on the books, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/legal-expert-says-illinois-got-it-right-regarding-its-religious-freedom-law-111783">including Illinois</a>.</p><p>Businesses and organizations including Apple and the NCAA have voiced concern over Indiana&#39;s law, and some states have barred government-funded travel to the state.</p><p>Democratic legislative leaders said a clarification would not be enough.</p><p>&quot;To say anything less than a repeal is going to fix it is incorrect,&quot; House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, a Democrat from Michigan City, said.</p><p>Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long said lawmakers were negotiating a clarification proposal that he hoped would be ready for public release on Wednesday, followed by a vote Thursday before sending the package to the governor.</p><p>&quot;We have a sense that we need to move quickly out here and be pretty nimble,&quot; Long said. &quot;But right now, we don&#39;t have consensus on the language.&quot;</p><p>Also Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star urged state lawmakers in a <a href="http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/2015/03/30/editorial-gov-pence-fix-religious-freedom-law-now/70698802/">front-page editorial</a> to respond to widespread criticism of the law by protecting the rights of gays and lesbians.</p><p>The Star&#39;s editorial, headlined &quot;FIX THIS NOW,&quot; covered the newspaper&#39;s entire front page. It called for lawmakers to enact a law that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person&#39;s sexual orientation or gender identity.</p><p>The newspaper says the uproar sparked by the law has &quot;done enormous harm&quot; to the state and potentially to its economic future.</p><p>The state of Arkansas is now considering passing it&rsquo;s own Religious Freedom Restoration Act.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this story.</em></p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Following him on Twitter @MikePuenteNews.</em></p></p> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/indiana-pastor-doesn%E2%80%99t-want-changes-religious-freedom-law-111798 Rauner puts Illiana Expressway on hold http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-puts-illiana-expressway-hold-111394 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Illiana 3 (2).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; A planned 47-mile expressway between Illinois and Indiana is on hold after new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order aimed at addressing the state&#39;s deep budget problems.</p><p>In his first act after taking office Monday, the Republican suspended planning and development of any major interstate construction projects pending a &quot;careful review&quot; of costs and benefits. Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said Tuesday the planned Illiana Expressway is among the projects that fall under the executive order, adding that it&#39;s part of &quot;a broader review to maximize taxpayer investment in infrastructure.&quot;</p><p>It was unclear Tuesday how long that review may take.</p><p>The $1.5 billion project would provide an east-west link between Interstate 65 in Indiana and Interstate 55 in Illinois.</p><p>Supporters, including Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, say the expressway would relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 80 south of Chicago and create much-needed jobs.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re ready to build the Illiana whenever Illinois is,&quot; Christy Denault, communications director for Pence, said Tuesday.</p><p>Opponents have called the project unnecessary and say it could become a boondoggle, leaving taxpayers on the hook if toll revenue falls short. Among those who have been critical is Randy Blankenhorn, Rauner&#39;s pick to lead the Illinois Department of Transportation.</p><p>Blankenhorn, who currently leads the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, couldn&#39;t be reached for comment Tuesday. But he&#39;s said publicly he wasn&#39;t sure Illiana was a good deal for Illinois and could expose taxpayers to undue risk.</p><p>Environmentalists also oppose the project, saying it will spoil rural areas in Illinois&#39; Will County.</p><p>Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, supported the expressway. Last month, the Federal Highway Administration approved plans for the project, giving officials the green light to begin looking for public-private partnerships to construct, maintain and operate it.</p><p>Opponents have vowed to continue a fight against it, and a lawsuit is pending.</p></p> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 18:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-puts-illiana-expressway-hold-111394 LGBT members in NW Indiana fight against same-sex marriage amendment proposal http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Indiana LGBT two-way.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana is a step closer to cementing the state&rsquo;s ban on same-sex marriage for possibly years to come. The state already outlaws same-sex marriage.</p><p>On Monday a senate committee passed a measure that would enshrine the ban in the state&rsquo;s constitution. Pushed by Governor Mike Pence, it goes before the full Senate later this week.</p><p>But not everyone supports the constitutional ban, known as House Joint Resolution 3. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce says it could hurt in attracting top talent to the state.</p><p>And some members of the LGBT community wonder why the Hoosier state is moving in the opposite direction of neighboring Illinois.</p><p>They recently sat down for a conversation with WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente at our bureau in Crown Point, Ind.</p></p> Tue, 11 Feb 2014 11:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/lgbt-members-nw-indiana-fight-against-same-sex-marriage-amendment-proposal-109682 Indiana seeks ban on same-sex marriage despite historic ruling http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-seeks-ban-same-sex-marriage-despite-historic-ruling-107885 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Indiana DOMA.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite the Supreme Court&rsquo;s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is supporting a measure that would ban gay marriage as part of the state constitution.</p><p>Same-sex marriage is already outlawed in Indiana, but Pence says voters should decide whether to solidify that with a vote on a state constitutional amendment in 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Now that the Supreme Court has had its say on the federal government&rsquo;s role in defining marriage, the people of Indiana should have their say about how marriage is understood and defined in our state,&rdquo; Pence said Wednesday. &ldquo;Given that opportunity, I am confident that Hoosiers will reaffirm our commitment to traditional marriage and will consider this important question with civility and respect for the values and dignity of all of the people of our state. I look forward to supporting efforts by members of the Indiana General Assembly to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter consideration next year.&rdquo;</p><p>Legislative leaders say they will push ahead with the effort after the Supreme Court handed down a pair of rulings leaving the marriage question with the states. Pence said he continues to support defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.</p><p>&ldquo;Marriage matters. I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman and is a unique institution worth defending in our state and nation. For thousands of years, marriage has served as the glue that holds families and societies together and so it should ever be,&rdquo; Pence said in a statement.</p><p>If the constitutional ban passes the General Assembly next year, it would be placed on the Indiana ballot in 2014.</p><p>Indiana state Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, says there are more important things the Governor and others should be worried about, like reducing unemployment.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to fight for changes that make people&rsquo;s&nbsp; lives better not waste our people&rsquo;s vitality on still more division,&rdquo; Pelath said.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report. </em></p></p> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana-seeks-ban-same-sex-marriage-despite-historic-ruling-107885 Gov. Pence wants to bring trauma center to Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-pence-wants-bring-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-107561 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Pence 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In Northwest Indiana, home to more than 800,000 residents, victims of car accidents or violent crime such as gunshots, often end up having to be transported to Chicago, South Bend or even Indianapolis. That&rsquo;s because the region has no trauma center of its own.</p><p>Indiana Governor Mike Pence soon hopes to change that.</p><p>&ldquo;Our biggest obligation is to see the health and well-being of the people of our state,&rdquo; Pence told WBEZ during a visit to Gary&rsquo;s City Hall on Wednesday.</p><p>Pence arrived to sign Senate Bill 585.&nbsp;Known as the &ldquo;Gary Bill,&rdquo; Senate Bill 585 encompasses a number of provisions to boost economic development in Gary and the surrounding area.</p><p>One provision frees up state money to pay for a study to see if Northwest Indiana does indeed need a trauma center.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the first step toward actually establishing one.</p><p>&ldquo;When you look at a map of Indiana, you can see there is a huge void in Northwest Indiana where we have the crossroads of the America a lots of serious (auto) injuries that take place,&rdquo; said Indiana State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, a Republican from Valparaiso, who supports the idea and was a sponsor of the bill. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s critical that we have this study done to determine in fact that the numbers are there. I think most of think that we do.&rdquo;</p><p>Charbonneau says the issue isn&rsquo;t a question of the quality of care given at local hospitals but the level of care provided, given that some severe injuries require more expertise.</p><p>During his visit to Gary City Hall, Pence recognized an Indiana State Trooper who helped save the life of a child recently. The child had difficulty breathing while traveling with her mother in the car.</p><p>Had the child suffered injuries from a car accident or gunshot wound, she likely would have been transported to the nearest trauma center -- about 40 miles away in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;As we reflected today on some public safety heroes, the most most important obligation we have as a state is to see to the safety and well being of the people of our state,&rdquo; Pence said.</p><p>Proponents say Gary would be the logical place for a trauma center because of its proximity to major highways and a high-crime rate.</p><p><em>Michael Puente covers Northwest Indiana for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 08:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-pence-wants-bring-trauma-center-northwest-indiana-107561 Pence signs bill for tighter abortion pill rules http://www.wbez.org/news/pence-signs-bill-tighter-abortion-pill-rules-106933 <p><p>INDIANAPOLIS &mdash; Planned Parenthood officials say they anticipate a court challenge to a bill signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence that tightens the state&#39;s regulations on distribution of the abortion pill.</p><p>The governor&#39;s office says Pence on Wednesday signed the bill that cleared the Republican-dominated Legislature last month. The new law will also require clinics that provide only drug-induced abortions to meet the same standards as clinics that perform surgical abortions.</p><p>The law&#39;s opponents contend the restrictions are aimed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette that&#39;s the only site in the state providing the abortion pill but not surgical abortions.</p><p>Planned Parenthood of Indiana president Betty Cockrum says the law is meant to chip away at women&#39;s access to abortion, She says a lawsuit is &quot;very likely.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pence-signs-bill-tighter-abortion-pill-rules-106933