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News Briefs: Legislature to consider ‘An Act to Strengthen Civil Rights’; Lenox Dems to caucus

By Thursday, Feb 8, 2018 News 1

Massachusetts Legislature to consider ‘An Act to Strengthen Civil Rights’

Boston — In an effort to protect civil rights, the Massachusetts Legislature will consider an act to stop corporations from claiming religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, sponsored by Rep. Michael Day, D-Stoneham. Late Wednesday evening, the legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary favorably reported H.767, ‘An Act to Strengthen Civil Rights,’ moving it closer to a floor vote.

Massachusetts law prohibits many forms of discrimination in employment, housing, credit and service at public accommodations on grounds such as race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetic information, disability, ancestry or veteran status. However, those civil rights protections are in danger from a new legal strategy: corporate use of religious freedom claims to challenge anti-discrimination law. Especially since the Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, claims by for-profit corporations for religious freedom exemptions from anti-discrimination law have arisen under both the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment to the Constitution. One such case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The object of H.767 is to prohibit business corporations from claiming corporate religious freedom as a basis for exemption from anti-discrimination law for allegedly discriminatory conduct that occurs in Massachusetts.

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Lenox to elect delegates to Democratic state convention

Lenox — Registered Democrats in Lenox will hold a caucus Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lenox Town Hall auditorium at 6 Walker St. to elect delegates and alternates to the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention. The caucus is open to all registered and pre-registered Democrats in Lenox. Pre-registered Democrats who will be age 18 by Tuesday, Sept. 18, will be allowed to participate and run as delegates or alternates. Lenox can elect four (two men, two women) delegates and four alternates to the convention.

This year’s state convention will be held Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the state will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, including constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates.

Those interested in getting involved with the Lenox Democratic Town Committee should contact Lucy Kennedy at (413) 637-1613.

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